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Superintendent, Madras Government Museum ; Correspondant Etranger, 

Soci^t^ d'Anthropologie de Paris ; Socio Corrispondante, 

Societa Romana di Antbropologia. 



of the Madras Government Museum. 







^ABELU (tortoise). — A sept of Aiyarakulu, 

jvjj ?^ and section of Gazula Kapu and Koppala 

Taccha Kurup.— Barbers who shave Malabar 

Tacchan.— The name of the carpenter sub-division 
of Kammalans, and further returned, at the census, 1891, 
as an occupational sub-division by some Paraiyans. 
Taccha Karaiyan has been recorded as a name for some 
members of the Karaiyan fishing caste. The Taccha- 
sastram, or science of carpentry, prescribes in minute 
details the rules of construction. 

Tacchanadan Muppan. — Recorded, in the Madras 
Census Reports, 1891 and 1901, as a sub-division of 
Kuricchans, and of Kurumbas of the Nilgiris. 

Tadan.— 5^^ Dasari. 

Tagara.— A section of Poroja. 

Takru.— A class of Muhammadan pilots and sailors 
in the Laccadive islands. {See Mapnilla.) 

Talaivan (a chief). — A title of the Maravans. Jadi 
or Jati Talaivan is the name of the hereditary chief 
of the Paravas of Tinnevelly, who, at times of pearl 
fisheries, receives a fixed share of the ' oysters.' 

Talamala.— A sub-division of Kanikar. 



Talayari.— The Talayari (talai, head) or chief watch- 
man, or Uddari (saviour of the village), is a kind of 
undepartmental village policeman, who is generally 
known as the Talari. Among other duties, he has to 
follow on the track of stolen cattle, to act as a guard 
over persons confined in the village choultry (lock-up), 
to attend upon the head of the village during the trial of 
petty cases, to serve processes, and distrain goods. In 
big villages there are two or three Talayaris, in which 
case one is a Paraiyan, who officiates in the Paraiya 
quarter. In parts of the Telugu country, the Mutrachas, 
who are the village watchmen, are known as Talarivallu, 
or watchman people, and, in like manner, the Bedars 
are called Talarivandlu in the Kurnool and Bellary 

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district 
(1906), that "from the earliest years of the British 
occupation of the country, fees were paid to the talaiyari 
or village watchman. He was probably survival of a 
state of society in which kavalgars did not exist, and his 
duties were, it seems, to look after the villagers' fields 
and threshing floors. At any rate, he continued in 
existence even after the abolition of the kaval system 
(^see Maravan), and was declared by the early Police 
Regulation (XI of 1816) to be part of the regular police 
establishment. Practically he did little real police duty, 
and in i860, when the mufassal police was reorganised, 
all claims to the services of the talaiyari as a servant of 
the State were formally abandoned, the Inspector-General 
of Police having reported that any attempt to utilise 
the talaiyari body would be fruitless and unpopular. 
Talaiyaris still continue to be employed and paid by the 
ryots (cultivators) as the private guardians of their crops 
and harvested grain. Recently, however, the district was 


brought into line with the rest of the Presidency by the 
creation of a new force of talaiyaris, who now perform 
the police duties assigned to such persons elsewhere. 
They are provided with lathis (sticks) and badges, and 
are a useful auxiliary to the police." 

Tali.— "The tali," Bishop Caldwell writes,* "is 
the Hindu sign of marriage, answering to the ring of 
European Christendom. I have known a clergyman 
refuse to perform a marriage with a tali, and insist upon 
a ring being used instead. A little consideration will 
show that the scrupulous conscience can find no rest for 
itself even in the ring ; for, if the ring is more Christian 
than the tali, it is only because its use among Christians 
is more ancient. Every one knows that the ring has a 
Pagan origin, and that, for this reason, it is rejected by 
Quakers." "The custom," Wagner informs us,t "of 
wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the 
left hand had unquestionably a Pagan origin. Both 
the Greeks and the Romans called the fourth left-hand 
finger the medicated finger, and used it to stir up 
mixtures and potions, out of the belief that it contained 
a vein, which communicated directly with the heart, and 
therefore nothing noxious could come in contact with it, 
without giving instant warning to that vital organ." 

The marriage badge, as it occurs in Southern India, 
is, broadly speaking, of two types. The one in use 
among the Tamil castes is oblong in shape, with a single 
or double indentation at the base, and rounded at the 
top. The corresponding bottu or sathamanam of the 
Telugu and Canarese castes is a flat or cup-shaped disc. 
The tali in use among various Malayalam castes at the 
tali-kettu ceremony is a long cylinder. 

* Ind. Ant. IV, 1875. f Manners, Customs, and Observances. 

VII-1 B 


Tali-kettu kalyanam (tali-tying marriage). — A 
ceremony gone through by Nayar girls, and girls of 
some other Malayalam castes, in childhood. Of those 
who gave evidence before the Malabar Marriage 
Commission, some thought the tali-kettu was a mar- 
riage, some not. Others called it a mock marriage, a 
formal marriage, a sham marriage, fictitious marriage, 
a marriage sacrament, the preliminary part of marriage, 
a meaningless ceremony, an empty form, a ridiculous 
farce, an incongruous custom, a waste of money, and 
a device for becoming involved in debt. " While," the 
Report states, " a small minority of strict conservatives 
still maintain that the tali-kettu is a real marriage 
intended to confer on the bridegroom a right to cohabit 
with the bride, an immense majority describe it as a 
fictitious marriage, the origin of which they are at a loss 
to explain. And another large section tender the expla- 
nation accepted by our President (Sir T. Muttusami 
Aiyar), that in some way or other it is an essential 
caste observance preliminary to the formation of sexual 
relations." In summing up the evidence collected by 
him, Mr. Lewis Moore states * that it seems to be 
proved beyond all reasonable doubt that " from the 
sixteenth century at all events, and up to the early 
portion of the nineteenth century, the relations between 
the sexes in families governed by marumakkathayam 
(inheritance in the female line) were of as loose a 
description as it is possible to imagine. The tali-kettu 
kalyanam, brought about by the Brahmans, brought 
about no improvement, and indeed, in all probability, 
made matters much worse by giving a quasi-religious 
sanction to a fictitious marriage, which bears an 

• Malabar Law and Custom, 1905. 


unpleasant resemblance to the sham marriage cere- 
monies performed among certain inferior castes else- 
where as a cloak for prostitution {see Deva-dasi). As 
years passed, some time about the opening of the nine- 
teenth century, the Kerala mahatmyam and Keralol- 
pathi were concocted, probably by Nambudris, and false 
and pernicious doctrines as to the obligations laid on 
the Nayars by divine law to administer to the lust of 
the Nambudris were disseminated abroad. The better 
classes among the Nayars revolted against the degrad- 
ing system thus established, and a custom sprang up, 
especially in North Malabar, of making sambandham a 
more or less formal contract, approved and sanctioned 
by the Karnavan (senior male) of the tarwad * to 
which the lady belonged, and celebrated with elaborate 
ceremony under the pudamuri (female cloth cutting) 
form. That there was nothing analogous to the puda- 
muri prevalent in Malabar from A.D. 1500 to 1800 
may, I think, be fairly presumed from the absence of all 
allusion to it in the works of the various European 
writers." According to Act IV, Madras, 1896, sam- 
bandham means an alliance between a man and woman, 
by reason of which they, in accordance with the custom 
of the community to which they belong, or either of 
them belongs, cohabit or intend to cohabit as husband 
and wife. 

Tainbala. — The Tambalas are summed up, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as " Telugu-speaking 
temple priests. Their social position difers in different 
localities. They are regarded as Brahmans in Godavari, 
Kistna and Nellore, and as Sudras in the other Telugu 
districts." It is noted, in the Census Report, that the 

* Tarwad : a marumakkathayam family, consisting of all the descendants in 
the female line of one common female ancestor. 


Tambalas are described by C. P. Brown as a class of 
beggars, who worship Siva, and who beat drums ; 
secular priests, etc. These men are generally Sudras, 
but wear the sacred thread. " It is said that, during his 
peregrinations in the north, Sankaracharya appointed 
Tamil Brahmans to perform temple services in all the 
Saiva shrines. Hence the Telugu people, in the midst 
of whom the Tamilians lived, called them the Tambalas 
(Tamils). They are not now, however, regarded as 
Brahmans, whatever their original position may have 
been. They will eat only with Brahmans. Most of them 
are Saivites, and a few are Lingayats. The Smarta 
Brahmans officiate as their priests at birth, marriage, 
and death ceremonies. They do not eat animal food, 
and all their religious rites are more or less like those 
of Brahmans. Their usual titles are Aiya and Appa." 

Tamban. — One of the divisions of Kshatriyas in 
Travancore. {See Tirumalpad.) 

Tambi (younger brother). — A term of affection in the 
Tamil country, used especially when a younger person is 
being addressed. It is also recorded as an honorific title 
of Nayars in Travancore, and a suffix to the names of 
Nayar sons of Travancore sovereigns. 

Tambiran. — The name for Pandaram managers of 
temples, e.g., at Tiruvadudurai in Tanjore and Mailam in 
South Arcot. 

Tamburan.— For the following note on the Rajahs 
or Tamburans, I am indebted to the Travancore Census 
Report, 1901. " They form an endogamous community 
of Kshatriyas, and live as seven families in Travancore. 
They are distinguished by the localities in which 
they reside, viz., Mavelikkara, Ennaikkat, Kartikapalli, 
Mariappalli, Tiruvalla, Praikkara, and Aranmula. They 
are all related by blood, the connection between some of 

7 tamburAn 

them being very close. Like the Koiltampurans, all the 
members of their community observe birth and death 
pollution with reference to each other. Their original 
home is Kolattunat in North Malabar, and their immi- 
gration into Travancore, where the reigning family is 
of the Kolattunat stock, was contemporaneous, in the 
main, with the invasion of Malabar by Tippu Sultan. 
The first family that came into the country from Kolattu- 
nat was the Putuppalli Kovilakam in the 5th century 
M.E. (Malabar era). The Travancore royal family then 
stood in need of adoption. The then Rajah arranged 
through a Koiltampuran of Tattarikkovilakam to bring 
from Kolattunat two princesses for adoption, as his nego- 
tiations with the then Kolattiri were fruitless. The 
Puttuppali Kovilakam members thus settled themselves 
at Kartikapalli, the last of whom died in 1030 M.E. The 
next family that migrated was Cheriyakovilakam, between 
920 and 930 M.E. They also came for adoption. But 
their right was disputed by another house, Pallikkovi- 
lakam. They then settled themselves at Aranmula. 
The third series of migrations were during the invasion 
of Malabar by Tippu in 964 M.E. All the Rajahs living 
there at the time came over to Travancore, of whom, 
however, many returned home after a time. 

The Rajahs, like the Koiltampurans, belong to the 
Yajurveda section of Dvijas, but follow the sutra laid 
down by Baudhayana. Their gotra is that of Bhar- 
gava, i.e., Parasurama, indicating in a manner that these 
are Kshatriyas who were accepted by Parasurama, the 
uncompromising Brahmin of the Hindu Puranas. They 
have all the Brahminical Samskaras, only the Brahmin 
priest does most of them on their behalf. Chaulam, or 
tuft ceremony, is performed along with Upanayanam. 
The Samavartanam, or termination of the pupil stage, 


is celebrated on the fourth day of the thread investiture. 
Instruction in arms is then given to the Kshatriya boy, 
and is supposed to be kept up until the requisite skil 
has been obtained. The tali-tying (niangalya dharanam 
or pallikkettu of a Raja lady) is done by a Koiltampuran, 
who thereafter lives with her as her married husband. 
The Kanyakadanam, or giving away of the bride, is 
performed by the priest who attends also to the other 
Sastraic rites. The males take Sudra consorts. If the 
first husband leaves by death or otherwise, another 
Koiltampuran may be accepted. This is not called 
marriage, but kuttirikkuka (living together). 

At Sradhas (memorial services), the Karta, or per- 
former of the ceremony, throws a flower as a mark of 
spiritual homage at the feet of the Brahmins who are 
invited to represent the manes, and greets them in the 
conventional form (namaskara). The priest does the 
other ceremonies. After the invited Brahmins have been 
duly entertained, oblations of cooked rice are offered 
to the ancestors by the Karta himself. 

They are to repeat the Gayatri ten times at each 
Sandhya prayer, together with the Panchakshara and 
the Ashtakshara mantras. 

Their caste government is in the hands of the 
Nambutiri Vaidikas. Their family priests belong 
to the class of Malayala Pottis, known as Tiruveli 

Besides the ordinary names prevalent among Koil- 
tampurans, names such as Martanda Varma, Aditya 
Varma, and Udaya Varma are also met with. Pet names, 
such as Kungaru, Kungappan, Kungoman, Kungunni, 
Unni and Ampu are common. In the Travancore 
Royal House, the first female member always takes 
the name of Lakshmi and the second that of Parvati. 


Tamoli.— A few members of this North India caste 
of betel-leaf sellers have been returned at times of 
census. I am unable to discover in what district they 
occur. Tambuli or Tamuli is recorded as a caste of 
betel-leaf sellers in Bengal, and Tamboli as a caste 
carrying on a similar occupation in the Bombay 

Tanamanadu.— A sub-division of Valaiyan. 

Tanda.— The word literally refers to a settlement or 
encampment of the Lambadis, by some of whom it is, at 
times of census, returned as a tribal synonym. 

Tandan.— It is recorded, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1891, that "in Walluvanad and Palghat (in 
Malabar) Tandan is a distinct caste. The ceremonies 
observed by Tandans are, in general outline, the same 
as those of the southern Tiyyans, but the two do not 
intermarry, each claiming superiority over the other. 
There is a custom which prohibits the Tandan females 
of Walluvanad from crossing a channel which separates 
that taluk from Mankara on the Palghat side." The 
Tandans of Malabar are described by Mr. F. Fawcett 
as a people allied to the Izhuvans, who observe the 
custom of fraternal polyandry, which the Izhuvans 

For the following note on the Tandans of Travancore, 
I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. 

The castemen are known as Uralis to the south of 
Varkailay, and Tandans to the north of it. In some 
places to the east of Kottarakaray, they were popularly 
termed Mutalpattukar, or those who receive the first 
perquisite for assistance rendered to carpenters. In the 
days when there were no saws, the rough instruments of 
the Tandan served their purpose. Hence some members 
of the caste were called Tacchan (carpenter). Tandan 


is derived from the Sanskrit dandanam or punishment, 
as, in ancient times, men of this caste were employed 
to carry out the punishments that were inflicted by the 
authorities upon offenders. For the execution of such 
punishments, the Tandans were provided with swords, 
choppers and knives. As they were also told off to 
guard the villages (ur) of which they happened to be 
inhabitants, they acquired the title of Urali. In some 
places, Tandans are also called Velans. Males and 
females have respectively the title Muppan and Mup- 
patti, meaning an elder. In addressing members of 
higher castes, the Tandans call themselves Kuzhiyan, or 
dwellers in pits. 

The Tandans are said to have once belonged to the 
same caste as the Izhuvans, but to have fallen away 
from that position. They must, in times gone by, have 
joined the military service of the various States in 
Malabar. They were, in some places, given rent-free 
lands, called Urali parambu, in return for the duties they 
were expected to perform. With the return of peaceful 
times, their occupation changed, and the climbing of 
palm trees, to extract the juice thereof, became their 
most important calling. They are also largely engaged 
in the manufacture of ropes. Many families still receive 
the mutalpattu, or allowance from the carpenters. 

The Tandans are divided into four endogamous 
sections, called Ilanji, Puvar, Irunelli, and Pilakkuti. 

The ornaments of the women are, besides the minnu, 
wreaths of red and red and black beads. Nowadays 
the gold gnattu of the Nayars is also worn. Tattooing 
is popular. Even males have a crescent and a dot 
tattooed on the forehead, the corresponding mark in 
females being a line from the nasal pit upwards. Among 
the devices tattooed on the arms are the conch shell, 


lotus, snake, discus, etc. In their food and drink the 
Tandans resemble the Iluvans. 

The priests of the Tandans are called Tanda 
Kuruppus, and they are also the caste barbers. The 
chief deity of the Tandans is Bhadrakali, at whose 
shrines at Mandaikkad, Cranganore, and Sarkkaray, 
offerings are regularly made. At the last place, a 
Tandan is the priest. The chief days for the worship 
of this deity are Bharani asterism in March and Patta- 
mudayam in April. November is a particularly religious 
month, and the day on which the Kartikay star falls is 
exclusively devoted to worship. The first Sunday in 
January is another religious occasion, and on that day 
cooked food is offered to the rising sun. This is called 
Pogala. Maruta, or the spirit of smallpox, receives 
special worship. If a member of the caste dies of this 
disease, a small shed is erected in his memory either at 
his home or near the local Bhadrakali shrine, and offer- 
ings of sweetmeats and toddy are made to him on the 
28th of Makaram (January- February). Chitragupta, the 
accountant of Yama, the god of death, is worshipped on 
the full-moon day in April-May. Ancestor worship is 
performed on the new-moon day in July. 

A girl's tali-tying ceremony, which is called kazhuttu- 
kettu, takes place when she is between seven and 
twelve years old. The bridegroom is a relative called 
Machchampi. The Kuruppu receives a money present 
of 2 J fanams for every tali tied in his presence. Though 
more than one girl may go through the ceremony in the 
same pandal (booth), each should have a separate bride- 
groom. The relations between the bride and bridegroom 
are dissolved by the father of the former paying the latter 
sixteen rasi fanams. The daughter of a man's paternal 
aunt or maternal uncle may be claimed as murappen or 


lawful bride. The sambandham, or actual marriage, 
takes place after a girl has reached puberty. A family 
is regarded as out-caste, if she has not previously gone 
through the tali-tying ceremony. 

Only the eldest member of a family is cremated, 
the rest being buried. Death pollution lasts for ten 
days. The anniversary of a death is celebrated at the 
sea-shore, where cooked food, mixed with gingelly 
{Sesamtim) is offered to the departed, and thrown into 
the sea. 

Tandan.^The Tandan is the hereditary headman 
of a Tiyan tara (village), and is a Tiyan by caste. He is 
appointed by the senior Rani of the Zamorin's family, or 
by some local Raja in territories outside the jurisdiction 
of the Zamorin. The Tandan is the principal person 
in the decision of caste disputes. He is expected to 
assist at the tali-tying, puberty, marriage and pregnancy 
ceremonies of members of the caste. His formal per- 
mission is required before the carpenter can cut down the 
areca palm, with which the shed in which the tali is tied 
is constructed. In cases of divorce, his functions are 
important. When a new house is built, a house-warming 
ceremony takes place, at which the Tandan officiates. 
Fowls are sacrificed, and the right leg is the Tandan's 
perquisite. He is a man of importance, not only in 
many affairs within his own caste, but also in those of 
other castes. Thus, when a Nayar dies, it is the Tandan's 
duty to get the body burnt. He controls the washerman 
and barber of the tara, and can withdraw their services 
when they are most needed. He officiates, moreover, at 
marriages of the artisan classes. 

Tangalan.— A sub-division of Paraiyan. The word 
indicates one who may not stand near, in reference to 
their belonging to the polluting classes. 


Tangedu.— Tanged u or Tangedla {Cassia auriculata) 
has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Kapu and 
Padma Sale. The bark of this shrub is one of the most 
valuable Indian tanning agents, and is, like myrabolams 
{Terminalia fruits), used in the manufacture of indigenous 

Tantuvayan (thread - wearer) . — An occupational 
name used by various weaving castes. 

Tapodhanlu. — The name, meaning those who 
believe in self-mortification as wealth, adopted by some 
Telugu mendicants. 

Tarakan. — See Muttan. 

Tartharol. — The name, recorded by Dr. W. H. R. 
Rivers,* of a division of the Todas. Tartal is also given 
by various writers as a division of this tribe. 

Tarwad. — Defined by Mr. Wigram t as a marumak- 
kathayam family, consisting of all the descendants in the 
female line of one common female ancestor. 

Tassan.— A Malayalam synonym for the Telugu 

Tattan.— The goldsmith section of the Tamil and 
Malayalam Kammalans. 

Teivaliol. — The name, recorded by Dr. W. H. R. 
Rivers,* of a division of the Todas. 

Telaga. — "The Telagas," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,^ 
" are a Telugu caste of cultivators, who were formerly 
soldiers in the armies of the Hindu sovereigns of Telin- 
gana. This may perhaps account for the name, for it is 
easy to see that the Telugu soldiers might come to be 
regarded as the Telugus or Telagas par excellence. 
The sub-divisions returned under this name show that 
there has been some confusion between the Telaeas 

* The Todas, 1906. t Malabar Law and Custom, 

X Madras Census Report, 1891. 


proper, and persons who are members of other Telugu 
castes. The Telagas are Vaishnavites, and have Brah- 
mans for their priests. Their customs closely resemble 
those of the Kapus. They eat flesh, but are not allowed 
to drink liquor. They are usually farmers now, but 
many still serve as soldiers, though their further recruit- 
ment has recently been stopped. Their common titles 
are Naidu and Dora." 

In a note on the Telagas and Vantaris (strong men), 
it is suggested that they should be classed with the 
Kapus, of which caste they are an offshoot for the fol- 
lowing reasons: — "(i) Members of the three classes 
admit that this is so ; (2) a collation of the intiperulu 
or septs shows that the same names recur among the 
three classes ; (3) all three interdine, and intermarriage 
between them is not rare. A poor Telaga or Vantari 
often gives his daughter in marriage to a rich Kapu. 
The Telagas and Vantaris are highly Brahmanised, 
and will have a Brahman for their guru, and get them- 
selves branded at his hands. A Kapu is generally 
content with a Satani or Jangam. Though they do not 
differ in their marriage and funeral rites from the Kapus, 
they usually marry their girls before puberty, and widow 
remarriage and divorce are disallowed. A Kapu is 
invariably a cultivator ; a Vantari was in olden days 
a sepoy, and, as such, owned inam (rent-free) lands. 
Even now he has a prejudice against ploughing jirayati 
(ordinarily assessed) lands, which a Kapu has no 
objection to do. Similarly, a Telaga takes pride in 
taking service under a Zamindar, but, unlike the Vantari, 
he will plough any land. Kapu women will fetch their 
own water, and carry meals to the fields for their fathers 
and husbands. The women of the other classes affect the 
gosha system, and the men carry their own food, and fetch 


water for domestic purposes, or, if well-to-do, employ 
Kapus for these services. It may be added that rich 
Kapus often exhibit a tendency to pass as Telagas." 

Telikula.— The Telikulas are summed up, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as "a Telugu oil-presser 
caste, which should not be confused with Tellakula, a 
synonym for Tsakala, or with Telli, a caste of Oriya 
oil-pressers." Telikula is a synonym for the Ganiga 
or Gandla caste of oil-pressers, derived from the oil 
(gingelly : Sesamum indicum), whereas the names Ganiga 
and Gandla refer to the oil-mill. In the Northern 
Circars, the name Telikula is used in preference to 
Ganiga or Gandla, and the oil-pressers in that part of the 
country are known as Telikula-vandlu. The Telikulas 
are Onteddu, i.e., use a single bullock for working the 
oil-mill, whereas, among the Ganigas, there are both 
Onteddu and Rendeddu sections, which employ one and 
two bullocks respectively. 

Tellakula (white clan). — Recorded, in the Census 
Report, 1901, as a synonym for Tsakala. According to 
the Rev. J. Cain,* the Tellakulas are Telugu washermen 
(Tsakalas), who, in consequence of having obtained 
employment as peons in Government offices, feel them- 
selves to be superior to other members of their caste. 

Telli.— The Tellis are the oil-pressers of the Oriya 
country, whose caste name is derived from telo, oil. 
They are apparently divided into three endogamous 
sections, named Holodia, Bolodia, and Khadi. The 
original occupation of the Holodias is said to have been 
the cultivation and sale of turmeric. They may not 
carry turmeric and other articles for sale on the back 
of bullocks, and consequently use carts as a medium 

Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879. 

TELLI 1 6 

of transport thereof. And it is further contrary to their 
caste rules even to assist in loading or unloading packs 
carried by bullocks. The Bolodias receive their name 
from the fact that they carry produce in the form of 
oil-seeds, etc., on pack bullocks, bolodo being Oriya for 
bullock. The Khadis are mainly engaged in expressing 
various oils in oil-mills, and this occupation is also 
carried on by some members of the other sections. All 
Tellis seem to belong to one gotra, called Karthikes- 
wara. The caste title is Sahu. In social position the 
Tellis, unlike the Tamil Vaniyans (oil-pressers), are on 
a par with the agricultural castes, and are one of the 
panchapatako, or five castes from which individuals are 
selected to decide serious issues which arise among the 
Badhoyis. The headman of the Tellis is called Behara, 
and he is assisted by a Bhollobaya, and in some places 
apparently by another officer called Pento. 

It is considered by the Tellis as a breach of caste 
rules to sail in a boat or ship. If a cow dies with a rope 
round its neck, or on the spot where it is tethered, 
the family which owned it is under pollution until puri- 
fication has been effected by means of a pilgrimage, or 
by bathing in a sacred river. The Holodias will not rear 
male calves at their houses, and do not castrate their 
bulls. Male calves are disposed of by sale as speedily 
as possible. Those Holodias who are illiterate make the 
mark (nisani) of a ball of turmeric paste as a substitute 
for their autograph on documents. In like manner, the 
nisanis of the Bolodias and Khadis respectively are the 
leather belt of a bullock and curved pole of the oil- 
mill. Among nisanis used by other Oriya castes, the 
following may be noted : — 

Korono (writer caste), style, 
Ravulo (temple servants), trident. 


Bavuri (basket-makers and earth-diggers), sickle. 

Dhoba (washermen) fork used for collecting fire- 

Brahman, ring of dharba grass, such as is worn 
on ceremonial occasions. 
In their marriage ceremonies, the Tellis observe the 
standard Oriya type, with a few variations. On the day 
before the wedding, two young married women carry 
two new pots painted white on their heads. To support 
the pots thereon, a single cloth, with the two ends rolled 
up to form a head-pad, must be used. The two women, 
accompanied by another married woman carrying a 
new winnowing basket, and mokkuto (forehead chaplet), 
proceed, to the accompaniment of the music of a chank 
shell and pipes, to a temple, whereat they worship. On 
their way home, the two girls, according to the custom of 
other Oriyas castes, go to seven houses, at each of which 
water is poured into their pots. During the marriage 
ceremony, after the ends of the cloths of the bride and 
bridegroom have been tied together, they exchange myra- 
bolams ( Terminalia fruits) and areca nuts. Until the 
close of the ceremonies, they may not plunge into a tank 
(pond) or river, and, in bathing, may not wet the head. 

Most of the Tellis are Paramarthos, and follow the 
Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism, but some are Smartas, 
and all worship Takuranis (village deities). 

Telugu.— Telugu or Telaga is used as a linguistic 
term indicating a person who speaks that language. It 
has, at recent times of census, been returned as a 
sub-division of various classes, e.g,, Agasa, Balija, 
Banajiga, Bedar, Bestha, Devanga, Holeya, Kumbara, 
Rachewar, Tsakala, and Uppara. Further, Telugu 
Vellala appears as a synonym of Velama, and Telugu 
Chetti as a synonym of Saluppan. 


TEN 1 8 

Ten (honey). — Ten or Jen has been recorded as a 
sub-division or exogamous sept of jungle Kurumbasand 
Holeyas. Some Irulas style themselves Ten Padai- 
yachi or Ten Vanniyan, Padaiyachi and Vanniyan being 
a title and synonym of the Pallis. 

Tendisai (southern country). — Recorded as a divi- 
sion of Vellalas in the Madura and Coimbatore districts. 

Tene (millet : Setaria italica). — An exogamous 
sept of Holeya. 

Tengina (cocoanut palm). — The name of a section 
of Halepaiks, who tap the cocoanut for extracting toddy. 

Tennam.— Tennam (cocoanut) or Tennanjanar 
(cocoanut tappers) is recorded as the occupational name 
of Shanan. Tenkayala (cocoanut) occurs as an exoga- 
mous sept of Yanadi, and the equivalent Tennang as a 
tree or kothu of Kondaiyamkotti Maravans. 

Tennilainadu. — A territorial sub-division of Kalian. 

Terkattiyar (southerner). — A term applied to 
Kalian, Maravan, Agamudaiyan, and other immigrants 
into the Tanjore district. At Mayavaram, for example, 
it is applied to Kalians, Agamudaiyans, and Valaiyans. 

Tertal. — A division of Toda. 

Teruvan.— A synonym of the Malabar Chaliyans, 
who are so called because, unlike most of the west coast 
castes, they live in streets (teru). 

Tevadiyal (servant of god). — The Tamil name for 
Deva-dasis. Tevan (god) occurs as a title of Maravans. 

Teyyambadi.— A section of Ambalavasis or temple 
servants in Malabar, the members of which dance and 
sing in Bhagavati temples, and perform a song called 
nagapattu (song in honour of serpents) in private houses, 
which is supposed to be effective in procuring offspring.* 

* Gazetteer of Malabar. 


Thadla.— Thadla or Thalia, meaning rope, is an 
exogamous sept of Devanga and Kama Sale. 

Thakur.— About a hundred members of this caste 
are returned, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as 
belonging to a Bombay caste of genealogists and culti- 
vators. It is recorded, in the Bombay Gazetteer, that 
" inferior in rank to Marathas, the Thakurs are idle and 
of unclean habits. Though some of them till and twist 
woollen threads for blankets, they live chiefly by beg- 
ging and ballad singing. At times they perform 
plays representing events mentioned in the Purans 
and Ramayan, and showing wooden puppets moved by 

Thalakokala (female cloths). — An exogamous sept 
of Devanga. 

Thalam (palmyra palm). — An exogamous sept or 
illam of Kanikar. 

Thamballa (sword bean : Canavalia ensiformis). — 
An exogamous sept of Tsakalas, members of which will 
not eat the bean. 

Thamburi.— A class of people in Mysore, who are 
Muhammadans, dress like Lambadis, but do not inter- 
marry wtih them. {See Lambadi.) 

Thanda Pulayan. — For the following note, I am 
indebted to Mr. L. K. Ananthakrishna Aiyar.* The 
Thanda Pulayans constitute a small division of the 
Pulayans, who dwell in South Malabar and Cochin. 
The name is given to them because of the garment 
worn by the females, made of the leaves of a sedge, 
called thanda (apparently Scirpus articulatus), which are 
cut into lengths, woven at one end, and tied round the 
waist so that they hang down below the knees. The 

• Monograph Eth. Survey, Cochin No. I, 1905. 
VII-2 B 


following story is told with regard to the origin of this 
costume. A certain high-caste man, who owned lands 
in those parts, chanced to sow seeds, and plant vege- 
tables. He was surprised to find that not a trace of 
what he sowed or planted was to be seen on the 
following day. With a view to clearing up the mystery, 
he kept a close watch during the night, and saw certain 
human beings, stark naked, come out of a hole. They 
were pursued, and a man and a woman were caught. 
Impressed with a sense of shame at their wretched 
condition, the high-caste man threw his upper garment 
to the male, but, having nothing to give as a covering 
for the woman, threw some thanda leaves over her. 
The Thanda Pulayans are also called Kuzhi Pulayans, 
as they were found emerging from a pit (kuzhi). The 
leafy garment is said to be fast going out of fashion, as 
Mappillas, and others who own the Pulayans, compel 
them to wear cotton cloths. According to the Rev. 
W. J. Richards, a division of the Pulayans, who are called 
Kanna Pulayans, and found near Alleppey, wear rather 
better, and more artistically made aprons.* 

The following legend is current regarding the 
origin of the Thanda Pulayans. In the south, the 
Pulayans are divided into the eastern and western 
sections. The former were the slaves of Duryodhana, 
and the latter were attached to the Pandus. These 
formed the two rival parties in the war of the Maha- 
baratha, and the defeat of Duryodhana was the cause of 
their degradation. 

The Thanda Pulayans appear to have been the 
slaves of the soil till 1854, when they were emancipated. 
Even now, their condition has not undergone much 

• Ind. Ant., IX, 1880. 


material improvement. Though they are left more to 
themselves, they still work for farmers or landlords for 
a daily wage of paddy (unhusked rice). If they run 
away, they are brought back, and punished. There is 
a custom that, when a farmer or landlord wants a few 
Pulayans to work in the fields, he obtains their ser- 
vices on payment of fifteen to twenty rupees to them, or 
to their master. When a Pulayan's services are thus 
obtained, he works for his new master for two edangalis 
of paddy a day. They can obtain their liberation on the 
return of the purchase-money, which they can never 
hope to earn. Having no property which they can 
claim as their own, and conscious perhaps that their lot 
will be the same wherever they go, they remain cheerful 
and contented, drudging on from day to day, and have 
no inclination to emigrate to places where they can get 
higher wages. The Cherumars of Palghat, on the con- 
trary, enjoy more freedom. Many go to the Wynad, 
and some to the Kolar gold-fields, where they receive 
a good money-wage. The Thanda Pulayans work, as 
has been said, for some landlord, who allows them small 
bits of land. The trees thereon belong to the master, 
but they are allowed to enjoy their produce during their 
residence there. When not required by the master, 
they can work where they like. They have to work for 
him for six months, and sometimes throughout the year. 
They have little to do after the crop has been garnered. 
They work in the rice-fields, pumping water, erecting 
bunds (mud embankments), weeding, transplanting, and 
reaping. Men, women, and children may be seen 
working together. After a day's hard work, in the sun 
or rain, they receive their wages, which they take to the 
nearest shop, called mattupitica (exchange shop), where 
they receive salt, chillies, etc., in exchange for a portion 


of the paddy, of which the remainder is cooked. The 
master's field must be guarded at night against the 
encroachment of cattle, and the depredations of thieves 
and wild beasts. They keep awake by shouting aloud, 
singing in a dull monotone, or beating a drum. Given a 
drink of toddy, the Pulayans will work for any length of 
time. It is not uncommon to see them thrashed for slight 
offences. If a man is thrashed with a thanda garment, he 
is so much disgraced in the eyes of his fellowmen, that 
he is not admitted into their society. Some improve 
their condition by becoming converts to Christianity. 
Others believe that the spirits of the departed would be 
displeased, if they became Christians. 

The Thanda Pulayan community is divided into 
exogamous illams, and marriage between members of 
the same illam is forbidden. Their habitations are 
called matams, which are miserable huts, supported on 
wooden posts, sometimes in the middle of a paddy field, 
with walls of reeds, bamboo mats or mud, and thatched 
with grass or cocoanut leaves. A few earthen pots, 
bamboo vessels, and cocoanut shells constitute their 
property. They are denied admission to the markets, and 
must stand at a distance to make their purchases or sales. 
Pulayan girls are married either before or after 
attaining puberty, but there is special ceremony, which 
is performed for every girl during her seventh or eighth 
year. This is called thanda kalyanam, or thanda 
marriage. It consists in having the girl dressed at an 
auspicious hour in the leafy garment by a woman, gene- 
rally a relative, or, in her absence, by one selected for 
the purpose. The relations and friends are entertained 
at a feast of curry and rice, fish from the backwater, 
and toddy. Prior to this ceremony, the girl is destitute 
of clothing, except for a strip of areca bark. 


At the marriage ceremony, the tali (marriage badge) is 
made of a piece of a conch shell ( Turbine lla rapa), which 
is tied on the bride's neck at an auspicious hour. She is 
taken before her landlord, who gives her some paddy, and 
all the cocoanuts on the tree, beneath which she happens 
to kneel. When the time has come for her to be taken 
to the hut of the bridegroom, one of her uncles, taking 
her by the hand, gives her into the charge of one of her 
husband's uncles. On the third morning, her paternal 
and maternal uncles visit her at the hut of the bridegroom, 
by whom they are entertained. They then return, with 
the bride and bridegroom, to the home of the former, 
where the newly-married couple stay for three days. 
To ascertain whether a marriage will be a happy one, 
a conch shell is spun round. If it falls to the north, it 
predicts good fortune ; if to the east or west, the omens 
are favourable ; if to the south, very unfavourable. 

The Thanda Pulayans follow the makkathayam law 
of inheritance (from father to son). They have their 
tribal assemblies, the members of which meet together 
on important occasions, as when a woman is charged 
with adultery, or when there is a theft case among them. 
All the members are more or less of equal status, and no 
superior is recognised. They swear by the sun, raising 
their hands, and saying " By the sun I did not." Other 
oaths are " May my eyes perish "or " May my head be 
cut off by lightning." 

Every kind of sickness is attributed to the influence 
of some demon, with whom a magician can communicate, 
and discover a means of liberation. The magician, when 
called in professionally, lights a fire, and seats himself 
beside it. He then sings, mutters some mantrams 
(prayers), and makes a discordant noise on his iron plate 
(kokkara). The man or woman, who is possessed by 


the demon, begins to make unconscious movements, and 
is made to speak the truth. The demon, receiving 
offerings of fowls, sheep, etc., sets him or her free. A 
form of ceremonial, called urasikotukkuka, is sometimes 
performed. At a place far distant from the hut, a leaf, 
on which the blood of a fowl has been made to fall, is 
spread on the ground. On a smaller leaf, chunam (lime) 
and turmeric are placed. The person who first sets eyes 
on these becomes possessed by the dem6n, and sets free 
the individual who was previously under its influence. 
In the event of sickness, the sorcerer is invited to the 
hut. He arrives in the evening, and is entertained with 
food, toddy, and betel. He then takes a tender cocoanut, 
flower of the areca palm, and some powdered rice, which 
he covers over with a palm leaf. The sick person is 
placed in front thereof, and a circle is drawn round him. 
Outside the circle, an iron stylus is stuck in the ground. 
The demon is supposed to be confined within the circle, 
and makes the patient cry out " I am in pai (influence 
of the ghost) and he is beating me," etc. With the 
promise of a fowl or sheep, or offerings thereof on the 
spot, the demon is persuaded to take its departure. 
Sometimes, when the sorcerer visits a house of sickness, 
a rice-pan containing three betel leaves, areca nuts, 
paddy, tulsi [Ocimzim sanchmt), sacred ashes, conch and 
cowry i^Cyprcea monetd) shells, is placed in the yard. 
The sorcerer sits in front of the pan, and begins to 
worship the demon, holding the shells in his hands, and 
turning to the four points of the compass. He then 
observes the omens, and, taking his iron plate, strikes it, 
while he chants the names of terrible demons, Mullva, 
Karinkali, Aiyinar, and Villi, and utters incantations. 
This is varied by dancing, to the music of the iron plate, 
sometimes from evening till noon on the following day. 



.The sick person works himself up into the belief that he 
has committed some great sin, and proceeds to make 
confession, when a small money fine is inflicted, which 
is spent on toddy for those who are assembled. The 
Thanda Pulayans practice maranakriyas, or sacrifices to 
certain demons, to help them in bringing about the death 
of an enemy or other person. Sometimes affliction is 
supposed to be brought about by the enmity of those who 
have got incantations written on a palm leaf, and buried 
in the ground near a house by the side of a well. A 
sorcerer is called in to counteract the evil charm, which 
he digs up, and destroys. 

When a member of the tribe has died an unnatural 
death, a man, with a fowl and sword in his hands, places 
another man in a pit which has been dug, and walks 
thrice round it with a torch. After an hour or two, the 
man is taken out of the pit, and goes to a distance, where 
certain ceremonies are performed. 

The Thanda Pulayans worship the gods of Brah- 
manical temples at a distance of nearly a quarter of a 
mile. A stone is set up in the ground, on which they 
place tender cocoanuts and a few puttans (Cochin coins). 
A temple servant takes these to the priest, who sends 
in return some sandal paste, holy water, and flowers. 
They worship, as has been already hinted, demons, and 
also the spirits of their ancestors, by which small brass 
figures of males and females representing the pretas 
(ghosts) are supposed to be possessed. They worship, 
among others, Kandakarnan, Kodunkali, Bhairavan, and 
Arukola pretas, who are lodged in small huts, and repre- 
sented by stones. In the month of May, they celebrate 
a festival, which lasts for several days. Chrysanthemum 
and thumba (apparently Leucas aspera) flowers are used 
in the performance of worship, and paddy, beaten rice, 


tender cocoanuts, toddy, etc., are offered up. There is a 
good deal of singing, drum-beating and devil-dancing 
by men and women, who on this occasion indulge 
liberally in toddy. The Pandavas, whom they call Anju 
Thamburakkal, are favourite deities. They devise 
various plans for warding off the evil influence of demons. 
Some, for example, wear rolls of palm leaf, with incanta- 
tions written on them, round their necks. Others hang 
baskets in the rice fields, containing peace offerings 
to the gods, and pray for the protection of the crop. 
Wherever there is a dense forest, Matan and Kali are 
supposed to dwell, and are worshipped. From the end 
of November to April, which is the slack season, the 
Thanda Pulayans go about dancing from hut to hut, and 
collecting money to purchase fowls, etc., for offerings. 
Club-dancing is their favourite amusement, and is often 
indulged in at night by the light of a blazing fire. The 
dancers, club in hand, go round in concentric circles, 
keeping time to the songs which they sing, striking each 
other's clubs, now bending to ward off a blow on the legs, 
or rising to protect the head. 

The dead are buried, and lighted torches are set up 
all round the grave, on to which the relations of the dead 
person throw three handfuls of rice. Near it, squares 
are made in rice flour, in each of which a leaf with rice 
flour and paddy, and a lighted torch or wick is placed. 
The chief mourner, who should be the son or nephew, 
carrying a pot of water, goes several times round the 
grave, and breaks the pot over the spot where the 
head rests. A few grains of rice are placed at the four 
corners of the grave, and a pebble is laid on it, with 
mantrams to keep off jackals, and to prevent the spirit 
from molesting people. Every morning the chief mourner 
goes to the grave, and makes offerings of boiled rice, 


gingelly {Sesamum indicum) seeds, and karuka grass. 
On the fourteenth day, he has an oil-bath, and, on the 
following day, the Pulayans of the village (kara) have a 
feast, with singing and beating of drums. On the six- 
teenth day, which is pulakuli or day of purification, the 
chief mourner makes offerings of rice balls, the guests are 
fed, and make a present of small coin to the songster who 
has entertained them. Similar offerings of rice balls are 
made to the spirit of the deceased person on the new-moon 
day in the month of Kartigam. During the period of pol- 
lution, the chief mourner has to cook his own food. The 
spirits of deceased ancestors are called Chavar (the dead), 
and are said to manifest themselves in dreams, especially 
to near relations, who speak in the morning of what 
they have seen during the night. They even say that 
they have held conversation with the deceased. The 
Rev. W. J. Richards informs us that he once saw "a 
little temple, about the size of a large rabbit-hutch, in 
which was a plank for the spirits of the deceased ances- 
tors to come and rest upon. The spirits are supposed 
to fish in the backwaters, and the phosphorescence, 
sometimes seen on the surface of the water, is taken as 
an indication of their presence."* 

The Thanda Pulayans will not eat with the Ulladans 
or Parayans, but stand at a distance of ninety feet from 
Brahmans and other high-caste people. They are short 
of stature and dark-skinned. Like the Cherumans, the 
women adorn their ears, necks, arms and fingers with 
masses of cheap jewellery. 

Thappata (drum). — An exogamous sept of Odde. 
Thathan (a Vaishnavite mendicant). — The equiva- 
lent of the Telugu Dasari. 

• Ind. Ant,, IX. 1880. 


Thatichettu (palmyra palm).— An exogamous sept 
of Kama Sale and Odde. 

Thavadadari. — The name of a section of the Vallu- 
vans (priests of the Paraiyans), who wear a necklace of 
tulsi beads (thavadam, necklace, dhari, wearer). The 
tulsi or basil ( Ocimum sanctum) is a very sacred plant 
with Hindus, and bead necklaces or rosaries are made 
from its woody stem. 

Thelu (scorpion).— Thelu and Thela are recorded 
as exogamous septs of Padma Sale and Madiga. The 
Canarese equivalent Chelu occurs as a sept of Kuruba. 

Thenige Buvva. — A sub-division of Madigas, who 
offer food (buvva) to the god in a dish or tray (thenige) 
at marriages. 

Thikka (simpleton). — A sub-division of Kuruba. 
Thippa (rubbish heap). — An exogamous sept of 
Kama Sale. 

Thogatnalai Korava. — Recorded* as a synonym of 
a thief class in the southern districts of the Madras 
Presidency. In a recent note on the Koravas, Mr. F. 
Fawcett writes that " a fact to be noted is that people 
such as the members of the well-known Thogamalai 
gang, who are always called Koravas by the police, 
are not Koravas at all. They are simply a criminal 
community, into which outsiders are admitted, who give 
their women in marriage outside the caste, and who adopt 
children of other castes." 

Thogaru (bitter). — An exogamous sept of Musu 

Thoka (tail). — An exogamous sept of Yerukala. 
Thonda ( Cephalendra indicd). — An exogamous sept 
of Musu Kamma, and gotra of Janappans, members of 

* F. S. Mullaly, Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency. 


which abstain from using the fruit or leaves of the thonda 

Thumma (babul : Acacia arabicd). — An exogamous 
sept of Mala and Padma Sale. The bark, pods, and 
leaves of the babul tree are used by tanners in the 
preparation of hides and skins, or as a dye. 

Thumu (iron measure for measuring grain). — An 
exogamous sept of Mutracha. 

Thupa (ghl, clarified butter). — An exogamous sept 
of Kuruba. 

ThurpU (eastern). — A sub-division of Yerukala and 

Thuta (hole). — An exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Tigala.— Tigala is summed up, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as "a Canarese synonym for the 
Tamil Palli ; applied also by the Canarese people to any 
Tamil Sudras of the lower castes." In parts of the 
Mysore country, the Tamil language is called Tigalu, 
and the Canarese Madhva Brahmans speak of Tamil 
Smarta Brahmans as Tigalaru. 

Some of the Tigalas, who have settled in Mysore, have 
forgotten their mother-tongue, and speak only Canarese, 
while others, e.g.^ those who live round about Bangalore, 
still speak Tamil. In their type of cranium they occupy 
a position intermediate between the dolichocephalic 
Pallis and the sub-brachy cephalic Canarese classes. 

The difference in the type of cranium of the Tigalas 
and Tamil Pallis is clearly brought by the following 
tabular statements of their cephalic indices : — 
a. Tigala — 

68 ^ 



71 ♦ 



♦ ♦♦♦♦ 


♦ ♦♦♦ 






♦ ♦♦♦♦ 


♦ ♦♦♦ 




♦ ♦♦ 


♦ ♦♦ 


♦ ♦♦♦ 





♦ ♦ 

b. Palli 






♦ ♦ 








♦ ♦♦♦ 


♦ ♦♦♦♦ 




♦ ♦♦♦ 










♦ ♦ 



The Tigalas are kitchen and market gardeners, and 
cuhivate the betel vine. They apparently have three 
divisions, called Ulli (garlic or onions), Ele (leaf), and 
Arava (Tamil). Among the Ulli Tigalas, several sub- 
divisions, and septs or budas named after deities or 
prominent members of the caste, exist, e.g. : — 


I. Lakkamma — 

Tota devaru (garden god). 
Dodda devaru (big or chief god). 
Dodda Narasayya. 
Dodda Nanjappa. 

II. Ellamma — 


III. Sidde devaru. 

The Tigalas have a headman, whose office is here- 
ditary, and who is assisted by a caste servant called 
Mudre. Council meetings are usually held at a fixed 
spot, called goni mara katte or mudre goni mara katte, 
because those summoned by the Mudre assemble beneath 
a goni [Ficus mysorensis) tree, round which a stone 
platform is erected. The tree and platform being 
sacred, no one may go there on wearing shoes or sandals. 
The members of council sit on a woollen blanket spread 
before the tree. 

Like the Pallis or Vanniyans, the Tigalas call 
themselves Agni Vanni, and claim to be descended from 
the fire-born hero Agni Banniraya. In connection with 
the Tigalas who have settled in the Bombay Presidency, 
it is noted * that ' ' they are a branch of the Mysore 
Tigalas, who are Tamil Palli emigrants from the 
Madras Presidency, and, like the Palli, claim a Kshat- 
riya origin." The Tigalas possess a manuscript, said 
to be a copy of a sasana at Conjeeveram (Kanchi), from 
which the following extracts are taken. " This is a 
Kanchi sasana published by Aswaththa Narayanswami, 
who was induced to do so by the god Varadaraja of 
Conjeeveram. This sasana is written to acquaint the 
descendants of the Mahapurusha Agni Banniraya with 

• Monograph, Eth. Sun'ey, Bombay, No. 93, Tigala, 1907. 


the origin, doings, and gotra of their ancestor Banniraya. 
This Banniraya sprang from fire, and so is much beloved 
by Vishnu the many-armed, the many-eyed, and the 
bearer of the chank and chakram, and who is no other 
than Narayana, the lord of all the worlds great and 
small, and the originator of the Vedas and Vedanta . 
. . . All those who see or worship this sasana 
relating to Agni Banniraya, who obtained boons from 
the Trimurthis, Devatas, and Rishis, and who is the 
ancestor of the Tigalas, will be prosperous, and have 
plenty of grain and children. Those who speak lightly 
of this caste will become subject to the curses of 
Banniraya, Trimurthis, Rishis, and Devas. The glory 
of this sasana is great, and is as follows : — The keeping 
and worshipping of this purana will enable the Tigalas 
of the Karnataka country to obtain the merit of sura- 
padavi (the state of Devas), merit of doing puja to a 
thousand lingams, a lakh of cow gifts, and a hundred 
kannikadanams (gifts of virgins for marriage)." The 
sasana is said to have been brought to the Canarese 
country because of a quarrel between the Pallis and 
the Tigalas at the time of a Tigala marriage. The 
Tigalas were prevented from bringing the various 
biruthus (insignia), and displaying them. The sasana 
was brought by the Tigalas, at an expenditure of 
Rs. 215, which sum was subsequently recovered from 
the Pallis. 

Tigala occurs further as the name of a sub-division 
of Holeya. 

Tikke (gem). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Ti (fire) Kollan.— A sub-division of Kollan. 

Tinda (polluting). — A sub-division of Kanisan. 
Tinda Kuruppu, meaning a teacher who cannot approach, 
is a synonym of the Kavutiyan barber caste. 


Tiperum (tl, fire). — A sub-division of Kollan black- 

Tiragati Gantlavallu (wandering bell hunters). — 
Stated, in the Manual of the Vizagapatam district, to 
repair hand-mills, catch antelopes, and sell the skins 
thereof. In hunting, they use lights and bells. 

Tirlasetti (the name of a Balija Chetti). — An 
exogamous sept of Yanadi. 

Tirumalpad.^Tirumalpad has been summed up as 
*' one of the four divisions of Kshatriyas in Travancore. 
The term, in its literal sense, conveys the idea of those 
who wait before kinors. In mediaeval times the Tirumal 
pads were commanders of armies." By Mr. Wigram * 
Tirumalpad is defined as a member of a Royal Family. 
In the Madras Census Report, 1891, it is stated that 
** there are two Tirumalpads, one a Samanta, and the 
other a so-called Kshatriya. The former observes 
customs and manners exactly similar to Eradis and 
Nedungadis. In fact, these are all more or less inter- 
changeable terms, members of the same family calling 
themselves indifferently Eradi or Tirumalpad. The 
Kshatriya Tirumalpad wears the sacred thread, and 
the rites he performs are similar to those of Brahmans, 
whose dress he has also adopted. He has, however, 
like Nayars, tali-kettu and sambandham separately. 
His females take Nambudiri consorts by preference, 
but may have husbands of their own caste. Their 
inheritance is in the female line, as among Nayars 
and Samantas. Generally the females of this caste 
furnish wives to Nambudiris. The touch of these 
females does not pollute a Nambudiri as does that of 
Nayars and Samantas, and, what is more, Nambudiris 

• Malabar Law and Custom, 


tirumalpAd 34 

may eat their food. The females are called Namba- 

For the following note on Tambans and Tirumalpads, 
I am indebted to the Travancore Census Report, 1901. 
'• The Tampans and Tirumalpats come under the cate- 
gory of Malabar Kshatriyas. The word Tampan is a 
contraction of Tampuran, and at one time denoted a 
ruling people. When they were divested of that author- 
ity by the Ilayetattu Svarupam, they are said to have 
fallen from the status of Tampuraris to Tampans. Their 
chief seat is the Vaikam taluk. The Tirumalpats do not 
seem to have ruled at all. The word Tirumulpatu 
indicates those that wait before kings. There is an old 
Sanskrit verse, which describes eight classes of Kshatriyas 
as occupying Kerala from very early times, namely (i) 
Bhupala or Maha Raja, such as those of Travancore and 
Cochin, (2) Rajaka or Rajas, such as those of Mavelikara 
and Kotungallur, (3) Kosi or Koiltampuran, (4) Puravan 
or Tampan, (5) Sripurogama or Tirumulpat, (6) Bhandari 
or Pantarattil, (7) Audvahika or Tirumalpat, (8) Cheta or 
Samanta. From this list it may be seen that two classes 
of Tirumulpats are mentioned, namely, Sripurogamas 
who are the waiters at the Raja's palace, and the Audva- 
hikas who perform Udvaha or wedding ceremony for 
certain castes. Both these, however, are identical people, 
though varying in their traditional occupations. The 
chief seats of the Tirumulpats are Shertallay and 

The Tampans and Tirumulpats are, for all purposes 
of castes, identical with other Malabar Kshatriyas. 
Every Tampan in Travancore is related to every other 
Tampan, and all are included within one circle of death 
and birth pollution. Their manners and customs, too, 
are exactly like those of other Kshatriyas. They are 


invested with the sacred thread at the sixteenth year of 
age, and recite the Gayatri (hymn) ten times thrice a day. 
The Nambutiri is the family priest, and (death) pollution 
lasts for eleven days. The Kettukalyanam, or tali-tying 
ceremony, may be performed between the seventh and 
the fourteenth year of age. The tali is tied by the 
Aryappattar, while the Namputiris recite the Vedic 
hymns. Their consorts are usually Namputiris, and 
sometimes East Coast Brahmans. Like all the Malabar 
Kshatriyas, they follow the marumakkathayam system 
of inheritance (through the female line). Tampans and 
Tirumulpats are often the personal attendants of the Tra- 
vancore Maharajas, whom they serve with characteristic 
fidelity and devotion. The Tirumulpats further perform 
the tali-tying ceremony of the Nayar aristocracy. 

The names of the Tirumulpats and Tampans are the 
same as those of other classes of Kshatriyas. The title 
Varma is uniformly added to their names. A few families 
among these, who once had ruling authority, have the 
titular suffix Bhandarattil, which is corrupted into 
Pantarattil. The Tampans call themselves in documents 
Koviladhikarikal, as they once had authority in kovils or 

Tiruman (holy deer). — An exogamous section of 

Tirumudi (holy knot). — Recorded, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as "bricklayers, whose women 
are usually prostitutes ; found chiefly in Salem and 
Coimbatore. They are either Vettuvans or Kaikolans. 
Kaikolan women, when they are dedicated to the temple, 
are supposed to be united in wedlock with the deity. 

Tiruvalluvan.^A sub-division of Valluvan. Tiru- 
valluvar, the author of the Kural, is said to have belonged 
to the Valluva caste. 

VII-3 B 



Tiru-vilakku-nagarattar (dwellers in the city ot 
holy lamps). — A name assumed by Vaniyans (oil- 

Tiyadi.— A synonym of the Tiyattunni section of 
Ambalavasis (see Unni). 

Tiyan.— The Tiyans, and Izhuvans or Iluvans, are 
the Malayalam toddy-drawing castes of Malabar, Cochin, 
and Travancore. The following note, except where 
otherwise indicated, is taken from an account of the 
Tiyans of Malabar by Mr. F. Fawcett. 

The Tiyans in Malabar number, according to the 
census returns, 512,063, or 19*3 per cent, of the total 
population. The corresponding figures for the Izhuvans 
are 101,638, or 3*8 per cent. The Tiyans have been 
summed up * as the middle class of the west coast, who 
cultivate the ground, take service as domestics, and 
follow trades and professions — anything but soldiering, 
of which they have an utter abhorrence. 

The marumakkatayam system (inheritance through 
the female line), which obtains in North Malabar, has 
favoured temporary connections between European men 
and Tiyan women, the children belonging to the mother's 
tarvad. Children bred under these conditions, European 
influence continuing, are often as fair as Europeans. It 
is recorded, in the Report of the Malabar Marriage Com- 
mission, 1894, that " in the early days of British rule, the 
Tiyan women incurred no social disgrace by consorting 
with Europeans, and, up to the last generation, if the 
Sudra girl could boast of her Brahman lover, the Tiyan 
girl could show more substantial benefits from her alliance 
with a white man of the ruling race. Happily, the pro- 
gress of education, and the growth of a wholesome public 

* Lieutenant-General E. F. Burton. An Indian Olio. 

Z1 tlYAJ^ 

opinion, have made shameful the position of a European's 
concubine ; and both races have thus been saved from a 
mode of life equally demoralising to each." On this point, 
Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Iyer writes as follows.* " It 
is true that there is an elevation both physically and 
mentally in the progeny of such a parentage. On making 
enquiries about this, I learn from a respectable and edu- 
cated Tiyan gentleman that this union is looked upon 
with contempt by the respectable class of people, and 
by the orthodox community. I am further informed that 
such women and children, with their families, are under 
a ban, and that respectable Tiya gentlemen who have 
married the daughters of European parentage are not 
allowed to enjoy the privileges of the caste. There are, 
I hear, several such instances in Calicut, Tellicherry, 
and Cannanore. Women of respectable families do not 
enter into such connection with Europeans." 

It is commonly supposed that the Tiyans and Izhu- 
vans came from Ceylon. It is recorded, in the South 
Canara Manual, that "it is well known that both before 
and after the Christian era there were invasions and 
occupations of the northern part of Ceylon by the races 
then inhabiting Southern India, and Malabar tradition 
tells us that some of these Dravidians migrated again 
from iram or Ceylon northwards to Travancore and 
other parts of the west coast of India, bringing with 
them the cocoanut or southern tree {tengina mara), and 
being known as Tivars (islanders) or Iravars, which 
names have since been altered to Tiyars and Ilavars. 
Dr. Caldwell derives Iram from the Sanskrit Simhala 
through the Pali Sihala by the omission of the initial S." 
It is noted by Bishop Caldwell t that there are traces of 

* Monograph Elhnog. Survey of the Cochin State, No. lo, Izhuvas, 1905. 
t The Tinnevelly Shanars, 1849. 


a common origin of the Iluvans and Shanars, Shanar (or 
Shener), for instance, being a title of honour amongst 
the Travancore Ilavars. And it is further recorded* that 
there is a tradition that the Shanars came originally from 
Ceylon. The Izhuvans are supposed to derive their 
caste name from Izha dwipa (island) or Simhala dwipa 
(both denoting Ceylon). In a Tamil Puranic work, 
quoted by Mr. Anantha Krishna Iyer, mention is made 
of a King Ilia of Ceylon, who went to Chidambaram in the 
Tamil country of Southern India, where a religious dis- 
cussion took place between the Buddhist priests and the 
Saivite devotee Manickavachakar in the presence of King 
Ilia, with the result that he was converted to the Saivite 
faith. From him the Iluvans are said to be descended. 

The Tiyans are always styled Izhuvan in documents 
concerning land, in which the Zamorin, or some Brah- 
man or Nayar grandee, appears as landlord. The 
Tiyans look down on the Izhuvans, and repudiate the 
relationship. Yet they cannot but submit to be called 
Izhuvan in their documents, for their Nayar or Brahman 
landlord will not let them have the land to cultivate, 
unless they do so. It is a custom of the country for a 
man of a superior caste to pretend complete ignorance 
of the caste of an individual lower in the social scale. 
Thus, in the Wynad, where there are several jungle 
tribes, one is accustomed to hear a man of superior caste 
pretending that he does not know a Paniyan from a 
Kurumba, and deliberately miscalling one or the other, 
saying " This Paniyan," when he knows perfectly well 
that he is a Kurumba., It is quite possible, therefore, 
that, though Tiyans are written down as Izhuvans, 
the two were not supposed to be identical. State 

• Madras Census Report, 1871. 


regulations keep the Izhuvans of Cochin and Travancore 
in a position of marked social inferiority, and in Malabar 
they are altogether unlettered and uncultured. On the 
other hand, the Tiyans of Malabar provide Magistrates, 
Sub- Judges, and other officials to serve His Majesty's 
Government. It may be noted that, in 1907, a Tiya lady 
matriculate was entertained as a clerk in the Tellicherry 

A divagation must be made, to bring the reader to a 
comprehension of the custom surrounding mattu, a word 
signifying change, i.e., change of cloth, which is of suffi- 
cient importance to demand explanation. When a man 
or woman is outcasted, the washerwoman (or man) and 
the barber of the community (and no other is available) 
are prohibited from performing their important parts in 
the ceremonies connected with birth, death, and menstru- 
ation. A person who is in a condition of impurity is 
under the same conditions ; he or she is temporarily out- 
casted. This applies to Nambutiris and Nayars, as well 
as to the Tiyans. Now the washerwoman is invariably 
of the Tiyan caste. There are Mannans, whose heredi- 
tary occupation is washing clothes for Nambutiris and 
Nayars, but, for the most part, the washerwoman who 
washes for the Nayar lady is of the Tiyan caste. A 
woman is under pollution after giving birth to a child, 
after the death of a member of her tarvad, and during 
menstruation. And the pollution must be removed at 
the end of the prescribed period, or she remains an out- 
caste — a very serious thing for her. The impurity is 
removed by receiving a clean cloth from the washer- 
woman, and giving in exchange her own cloth to be 
washed. This is mattu, and, be it noted, the cloth 
which gives mattu is one belonging to the washerwoman, 
not to the person to be purified. The washerwoman 

tlYAl^ 4d 

gives her own cloth to effect the purification. Theoreti- 
cally, the Tiyan has the power to give or withhold mattu, 
and thus keep any one out of caste in a state of impurity ; 
but it is a privilege which is seldom if ever exercised. 
Yet it is one which he admittedly holds, and is thus 
in a position to exercise considerable control over the 
Nambutiri and Nayar communities. It is odd that it is 
not a soiled cloth washed and returned to the person 
which gives purification, but one of the washerwoman's 
own cloths. So the mattu may have a deeper meaning 
than lies in mere change of cloth, dressing in a clean 
one, and giving the soiled one to a person of inferior 
caste to wash. This mattu is second in importance to 
no custom. It must be done on the last day of pollution 
after birth and death ceremonies, and menstruation, or 
the person concerned remains outcasted. It is note- 
worthy that the Izhuvans know nothing of mattu. 

An Izhuvan will eat rice cooked by a Tiyan, but a 
Tiyan will not eat rice cooked by an Izhuvan — a circum- 
stance pointing to the inferiority of the Izhuvan. A 
Nayar, as well as a Tiyan, will partake of almost any 
form of food or drink, which is prepared even by a 
Mappilla (Malabar Muhammadan), who is deemed 
inferior to both. But the line is drawn at rice, which 
must be prepared by one of equal caste or class, or by a 
superior. An Izhuvan, partaking of rice at a Tiyan's 
house, must eat it in a verandah ; he cannot do so in the 
house, as that would be defilement to the Tiyan. Not 
only must the Izhuvan eat the rice in the verandah, 
but he must wash the plates, and clean up the place 
where he has eaten. Again, an Izhuvan could have no 
objection to drinking from a Tiyan's well. Further, 
there is practically no mixture in the distribution of 
Tiyans and Izhuvans. Where there are Izhuvans there 

4i tlYAl4 

are no Tiyans, and vice versa. [In a photograph of a 
group of Izhuvan females of Palghat eating their meal, 
which was sent to me, they are all in a kneeling posture, 
with the buttocks supported on the heels. They 
are said to assume the same attitude when engaged 
in grinding and winnowing grain, and other occupa- 
tions, with a resultant thickening of the skin over the 

Differences, which might well come under the head- 
ing marriage, may be considered here, for the purpose of 
comparison between the Tiyans and Izhuvans. During 
the preliminaries to the marriage ceremony among the 
Tiyans, the date of the marriage having been fixed in 
the presence of the representatives of the bride and 
bridegroom, the following formula is repeated by the 
Tandan or headman of the bride's party. Translated as 
accurately as possible, it runs thus. " The tara and 
changati of both sides having met and consulted ; the 
astrologer having fixed an auspicious day after examining 
the star and porutham ; permission having been obtained 
from the tara, the relations, the illam and kulam, the 
father, uncle, and the brothers, and from the eight and 
four (twelve illams) and the six and four (ten kiriyams) ; 
the conji and adayalam ceremonies and the four tazhus 
having been performed, let me perform the kanjikudi 
ceremony for the marriage of ... . the son of 
. . . . with .... daughter of .... in 
the presence of muperium." This formula, with slight 
variations here and there, is repeated at every Tiyan mar- 
riage in South Malabar. It is a solemn declaration, 
giving validity to the union, although, in the way that 
custom and ritual survive long after their original signifi- 
cance has been forgotten, the meaning of many of the 
terms used is altogether unknown. What, for instance, 


is the meaning of muperium ? No one can tell. But 
a few of the terms are explainable. 

Tara. The tara was the smallest unit in the ancient 
government system, which, for want of a better term, we 
may style feudal. It was not exactly a village, for the 
people lived apart. Each tara had its Nayar chieftain, 
and also its Tiyan chief or Tandan, its astrologer, its 
washerman, its goldsmith, and other useful people, each 
serving the community for the sake of small advantages. 
Each tara was its own world. 

Changati (friend). The friends of both parties 
which negotiated the marriage. 

Porutham (agreement). Examination of the horo- 
scopes of the boy and girl makes it possible to ascertain 
whether there is agreement between the two, and the 
union will be propitious. 

Illam. Here intended to mean the father's family. 

Kulam. The name, derived from kula a branch, 
here denotes the mother's family. 

Twelve illams, ten kiriyams. The word illam, now 
used exclusively for the residence of a Nambutiri, is 
supposed to have been used in days of old for the house 
of a person of any caste. And this supposition is said to 
find support in the way that a Tiyan coming from the 
south is often greeted in South Canara. Thus, a 
Malabar Tiyan, travelling to the celebrated temple at 
Gokarnam in South Canara, is at once asked " What is 
your illam and kiriyam?" He has heard these terms 
used in the foregoing formula during his own or 
another's marriage ceremony, but attached no meaning 
to them. To the man of South Canara they have genuine 
meaning. One should be able to answer the question 
satisfactorily, and thus give a proper account of himself. 
If he cannot, he gets neither food nor water from the 


South Canara Tiyan. This also holds good, to some 
extent, in the case of a southern Tiyan visiting the 
northern parts of the Cherakal taluk of Malabar. 

The ten illams of South Malabar are as follows : — 

Tala Kodan. 

Nellika {Phyllanthus 

Paraka or Varaka. 
Ten Kudi or Tenan Kudi. 

Padayan Kudi. 

Kan nan. 


Kytat > 

Puzhampayi or BavuJ 


The illams of North Malabar are said to be — 

Nellika. [ Padayam Kudi. 
Pullanhi. Tenan Kudi. 

Vangeri. Manan Kudi. 

Koyikkalan. | Vilakkan Kudi. 

Marriage is strictly forbidden between two persons 
belonging to the same illam. The bride and bridegroom 
must belong to different illams. In fact, the illams are 
exogamous. Members of some of the illams were allowed 
certain privileges and dignities. Thus, the men of the 
Varakat illam (Varaka Tiyans) were in the old days per- 
mitted to travel in a mancheel (a hammock-cot slung on 
a pole). They were allowed this privilege of higher caste 
people, which was prohibited to the Tiyans of other 
illams. But, should one of them, when travelling in a 
mancheel, happen to see a Rajah or a Nayar, he was 
obliged to hang one of his legs out of it in token of sub- 
mission. The Varaka Tiyans were further allowed to 
wear gold jewels on the neck, to don silken cloths, to 
fasten a sword round the waist, and to carry a shield. 
The sword was made of thin pliable steel, and worn 
round the waist like a belt, the point being fastened to 
the hilt through a small hole near the point. A man, 
intending to damage another, might make an apparently 

'riYAN 44 

friendly call on him, his]^body loosely covered with a cloth, 
and to all appearances unarmed. In less than a second, 
he could unfasten the sword round his waist, and cut the 
other down. The well-known Mannanar belonged to 
the Varakat illam. Those who know Malabar will recall 
to mind the benevolent but strange institution which he 
initiated. He provided a comfortable home for Nambu- 
tiri women who were thrown out of caste, and thus in the 
ordinary course of events doomed to every misery and 
degradation to be found in life. On being outcasted, 
the funeral ceremonies of Nambutiri women were per- 
formed by her own people, and she became dead to them. 
She went to the Mannanar, and her birth ceremonies 
were performed, so that she might begin life anew in a 
state of purity. If, on arrival, she entered by the left 
door, she was his wife, if by the front door, his sister. It 
is said that, when their chief, Mannanar of the Aramana, 
is destitute of heirs, the Tiyans of Kolattanad go in 
procession to the Kurumattur Nambutiri (the chief of the 
Peringallur Brahmans) and demand a Brahman virgin 
to be adopted as sister of Mannanar, who follows the 
marumakkatayam rule of succession. This demand, it 
is said, used to be granted by the Nambutiris assembling 
at a meeting, and selecting a maiden to be given to the 

Kiriyam is said to be a corrupt form of the Sanskrit 
word griham (house), but this seems rather fanciful. 
There are said to have been about two kiriyams for each 
village. The names of only three are known to me, viz., 
Karumana, Kaita, and Kampathi. There is a village 
called Karumana, near the temple of Lakshmipuram 
in South Canara. Karumana is applied as a term to 
signify a Tiyan during the ordinary devil-dancing in 
temples, when an oracular utterance is delivered. The 


oracle always addresses the Tiyan as "my Karumana,' 
not as " my Tiyan." The only other use of the word is 
in Karumana acharam (the customs of the Tiyans). 

Other outward and visible differences between Tiyan 
and Izhuvan marriages are these. The South Malabar 
Tiyan bridegroom, dressed as if for a wrestling match, 
with his cloth tied tight about his loins, carries a sword 
and shield, and is escorted by two companions similarly 
equipped, dancing their way along. The Izhuvan does 
not carry a sword under any circumstances. The chief 
feature of his wedding ceremony is a singing match. 
This, called the vatil-tura-pattu, or open the door song, 
assumes the form of a contest between the parties of the 
bridegroom and bride. The story of Krishna and his 
wife Rukmini is supposed to be alluded to. We have 
seen it all under slightly different colour at Conjeeveram. 
Krishna asks Rukmini to open the door, and admit him. 
She refuses, thinking he has been gallivanting with some 
other lady. He beseeches ; she refuses. He explains, 
and at length she yields. The song is more or less extem- 
pore, and each 'side must be ready with an immediate 
answer. The side which is reduced to the extremity 
of having no answer is beaten and under ignominy. 

I pass on to the subject of personal adornment of the 
Tiyans : — 

(a) North Malabar, Males — 

1. A horizontal dab made with white ashes on 

either side of the forehead and chest, and on 
the outside of each shoulder. 

2. Two gold ear-rings (kadakkan) in each ear. 

A silver chain hanging from the sheath of 
his knife, and fastened with a boss. Two 
tambak (copper, brass and silver) rings on 
the ring finger of the left hand. 


3. A gold kadakkan in each ear, and an iron 

ring on the ring finger of the left hand. 

4. A thorn in each ear (another was similarly 

ornamented). Not married. 

5. A gold ear-ring in each ear. An iron ring on 

the little finger of the left hand. Two silver 

rings, in which is set a piece of hair from 

an elephant's tail, on the little finger of the 

right hand. 

A few individuals wore brass rings, and some had 

ear-rings, in which a red stone was set. Amulets were 

worn by some in little cylindrical cases on a string, to 

protect the wearer against enemies, the evil eye, or devils. 

One man wore a silver girdle, to which an amulet in 

a case was fastened, underneath his cloth, so that it was 

not in view to the public. One individual only is noted 

as having been tattooed, with a circular mark just above 

his glabella. The arms of a good many, and the abdomen 

of a few, bore cicatrices from branding, apparently for 

the purpose of making them strong and relieving pains. 

{b) South Malabar, Males. 

In the country parts, the waist cloth is always 

worn above the knee. About a third of the individuals 

examined wore ear-rings. The ears of all were pierced. 

Those who were without ear-rings had no scruples about 

wearing them, but were too poor to buy them. 

1 . Blue spot tattooed over the glabella. 

2. Silver amulet-case, containing fifteen gold 

fanams, at the waist. He said that he kept 
the coins in the receptacle for security, but 
I think it was for good luck. 

3. Ear-ring (kadakkan) in each ear. A copper 

amulet-case, containing a yantram to keep 
off devils, at the waist. 


4. Four silver amulet-cases, containing yantrams 

on a copper sheet for curing some ailment, 
at the waist. 

5. Two gold kadakkans in each ear. A white 

spot over the glabella. 
(c) North Malabar, Females. 

In olden days, the women used to wear coloured and 
striped cloths round the waist, and hanging to the knees. 
The breast was not covered. The body above the waist 
was not allowed to be covered, except during the period 
of death pollution. Nowadays, white is generally the 
colour to be seen, and the body is seldom covered above 
the waist — never one may say, except (and then only 
sometimes) in the towns. The Izhuvan women in 
Malabar always wear blue cloths : just one cloth rolled 
tightly round the waist, and hanging to the knees. Of 
late, they have taken to wearing also a blue cloth drawn 
tight over the breast. 

Ornaments. The thodu, which is now sometimes 
worn by Tiyan women, is not a Tiyan ornament. The 
ear-rings, called kathila and ananthod, are the Tiyan 
ornaments, and look like strings of gold beads with 
pendants. Discs of white metal or lead are used to 
stretch and keep open the dilated lobes of the ears, in 
which gold ornaments are worn when necessary or 
possible. Venetian sequins, real or imitation, known in 
Malabar as amada, are largely used for neck ornaments. 
There is a Malabar proverb that one need not look for 
an insect's burrow in amada, meaning that you cannot 
find anything vile in a worthy person. 

Turning now to the subject of marriage. In the 
ordinary course of things, a marriage would not be made 
between a Tiyan girl of South Malabar and a Tiyan 
man of North Malabar, for the reason that the children 


of such a marriage would inherit no property from the 
family of either parent. The husband would have no 
share in the property of his family, which devolves 
through the women ; nor would the wife have any share 
in that of her family, which is passed on through the 
men. So there would be nothing for the children. But, 
on the other hand, marriage between a girl of the north 
and a man of the south is a different thing. The children 
would inherit from both parents. As a rule, Tiyans of 
the north marry in the north, and those of the south in 
the south. 

It was generally admitted that it was formerly the 
custom among the Tiyans in South Malabar for several 
brothers — in fact all of them — to share one wife. Two 
existing instances of this custom were recorded. 

The arrangement of a marriage, and the ceremonial 
which will now be described, though pertaining strictly 
to the Calicut taluk of South Malabar, are sufficiently 
representative of a Tiyan marriage anywhere. There 
is, however, this difference, that, in North Malabar, 
where inheritance through females obtains, and the wife 
invariably resides in her own tarwad or family home, 
there is never any stipulation concerning a girl's dowry. 
In South Malabar, where inheritance is through the 
males, and where the wife lives in her husband's house, 
the dowry in money, jewels, or furniture, is as a rule 
settled beforehand, and must be handed over on the 
wedding day. In the Calicut taluk, we find an exception 
to this general rule of South Malabar, where the subject 
of the dowry is not usually mentioned. In North 
Malabar, gifts of jewels are made in proportion as the 
bride's people are wealthy and generous. What is given 
is in the way of a gift, and forms no feature in the 
marital agreement. 



The first step to be taken in connection with marriage 
is examination of the horoscopes of the boy and girl, in 
order to ascertain whether their union will be one of 
happiness or the reverse. While this is being done by 
the Panikkar (Malabar astrologer), the following persons 
should be present : — 

(a) On the part of the bridegroom — 

1. Tandan, or chief of the tara. 

2. Father, or other elder in the family. 

3. Uncle, i.e., the mother's brother. In Malabar the word 

uncle means maternal uncle. 

4. Sisters' husbands. 

5. Four or more friends or companions. 

6. Any number of relations and friends. 

(d) On the part of the bride — 

1 . Tandan of her tara. 

2. Father, or other guardian. 

3. Uncle. 

4. Four or more friends. 

5. The astrologer of her tara. 

6. Friends and relations. 

The ceremony must be performed at the house of the 
girl's family. Her father's consent is necessary, but his 
presence is not essential at this or the two subsequent 
ceremonies in connection with the marriage. The 
Tandan, it may be noted, is the caste governmental head 
in all matters affecting his own caste and the artisans. 
He is a Tiyan, and his office, which is authorised by the 
local Rajah, or rather by his senior Rani, is hereditary. 
In exceptional cases, however, the hereditary right may 
be interrupted by the Rani appointing some one else. 
The Tandan of the tara is required to assist at every 
ceremony connected with marriage, at the ceremony 
when a girl attains puberty, at that of tying the tali, and 


at the fifth and seventh months of pregnancy. His 
formal permission is required before the carpenter can 
cut down the areca palm, with which the little shed in 
which the tali is tied is constructed. In cases of di- 
vorce, his functions are important. When a new house 
is built, there must be a house-warming ceremony, at 
which the Tandan officiates. Fowls are sacrificed, and 
the right leg is the Tandan's perquisite. He is a man 
of importance, not only in many affairs within his own 
caste, but also in those of other castes. Thus, when a 
Nayar dies, it is the Tandan's duty to get the body 
burnt. He controls the washerman and barber of the 
tara, and can withdraw their services when they are 
most needed. He officiates, moreover, at marriages of 
the artisan class — carpenters, braziers, goldsmiths and 

A group of taras forms what is called a desam, the 
koyma or "sovereignty" of which is represented by a 
Nayar tarwad. It is through the head or Karnavan 
(really the chieftain) of this tarwad that the Tandan 
approaches the Raja in matters of appeal, and the like. 
The Tandan is to some extent under his guidance and 
control, but he must provide the Tandan with a body- 
guard of two Nayars on occasions of marriages. In the 
old days, it may be mentioned, the Tandans of the taras 
within the rule of the Zamorin were always appointed by 
his senior Rani. The term Tandan must not be con- 
founded with the Tandars, a people of the Palghat taluk, 
who appear to be allied to the Izhuvans. These Tandars 
observe the custom of paternal polyandry, while the 
Izhuvans abhor it. 

The procedure observed in the examination of horo- 
scopes is as follows. The Tandan of the bride's tara 
gives a grass or palmyra palm leaf mat to the astrologer 

5 1 TIYAN 

to sit on, and supplies mats or seats for the bridegroom's 
party. The common sleeping mat of wild pine leaves, 
or a wooden stool, must, on no account, be given for the 
astrologer to sit on. It may be day or night when the 
ceremony takes place, but, whatever the hour may be, a 
lamp having five, seven, nine, or eleven cotton wicks, 
must be burning in front of the astrologer. The Tandan's 
wife puts it in its place. Then the boy's uncle hands 
over the boy's horoscope to his Tandan, who passes it on 
to the girl's Tandan. The girl's father hands her horo- 
scope to their Tandan, who, when he has received them 
both, passes them on to the astrologer. The two horo- 
scopes should agree on twenty-one points — a require- 
ment which might prove awkward, were it not that a 
balance in favour of beneficent influences is generally 
allowed to admit of the marriage taking place. In the 
case of agreement, the boy's uncle, through his Tandan, 
then pays two fanams * (eight annas) — one for each 
horoscope — to the astrologer. When there is disagree- 
ment, the girl's uncle pays the money. The horoscopes 
(which have been privately examined beforehand to make 
sure of no disagreement) are returned to their respec- 
tive owners. After the examination of the horoscope, 
there is a feast with plenty of sweetmeats. The next 
item is the conjee (rice gruel) ceremony, at which the 
following should be present : — 
(a) On the part of the boy — 

1. Father, his brother, or some one representing him. 

2. Husbands of all married sisters. 

3. Uncle. 

4. Tandan of his tara. 

5. Neighbours and friends. 

• A fanam is a small gold coin, worth about four annas, which was formerly 
current in Southern India, but is no longer in circulation. 
VII-4 B 


(d) On the part of the girl — 

T. Uncle. 

2. Relations of married sisters. 

3. Relations of married brothers. 

4. Tandan of her tara. 

5. Astrologer of her tara. 

6. Relations and friends. 

The horoscopes are again formally examined by the 
astrologer, who announces that their agreement augurs 
a happy wedded life. The boy's uncle pays him two 
fanams. The girl's uncle takes the two horoscopes, 
which have just been tied together, from the astrologer, 
and hands them to the Tandan of the girl's tara, who 
passes them on to the Tandan of the boy's tara. They 
are handed by him to the boy's uncle. The astrologer 
then writes on a palmyra leaf a note for each party to 
the marriage, stating the auspicious day and hour for the 
final ceremony, the hour at which the bride should leave 
her house, and the hour for her arrival at the house of 
the bridegroom. The following programme is then gone 
through. In the verandah, facing east, before the front 
door, is spread an ordinary sleeping mat, over it a grass 
mat, and over that a plain white cloth which has been 
washed and is not a new one. On the floor close by, 
the following articles are placed : — 

A lamp, having an odd number of cotton wicks, 
which is kept lighted whatever the hour of day it 
may be ; 

A measure, called nazhi, made of jak tree {Arto- 
carpus integrifolid) wood, filled to overflowing with rice, 
and placed on a flat bell-metal plate (talika) ; 

A plain white cloth, washed but not new, neatly 
folded, and placed on the metal plate to the right (south) 
of the rice ; 


A small bell-metal vessel (kindi), having no handle, 
filled with water. 

The lamp is placed on the south side of the mat, 
the plate next to it (to the north), and the kindi at a 
little distance to the left (the north). The people who 
sit on the mat always face the east. The mat having 
been spread, the various articles just mentioned are 
brought from the central room of the house by three 
women, who set them in their places. The Tandan's 
wife carries the lamp, the eldest woman of the house the 
bell-mctal plate, and some other woman the kindi. The 
Tandan of the boy's tara, the boy's sister's husband, and 
a friend then sit on the mat covered with a cloth. If the 
boy has two brothers-in-law, both sit on the mat, to the 
exclusion of the friend. The senior woman of the house 
then hands three plates of rice conjee to the Tandan of 
the girl's tara, who places them in front of the three 
persons seated on the mat. To the right of each plate, 
a little jaggery (unrefined sugar) is placed on a piece of 
plantain leaf. Each of those seated takes about a spoon- 
ful of conjee in his right hand. The Tandan repeats the 
formula, which has already been given, and asks " May 
the conjee be drunk"? He answers his question by 
drinking some of the conjee, and eating a little jaggery. 
All three then partake of the conjee and jaggery, after 
which they rise from the mat, and the plates and mat are 
removed. The place is cleaned, and the mats are again 
put down, while betel is distributed. The two Tandans 
then sit on the mat. The girl's Tandan picks up a bundle 
of about twenty-five betel leaves, and gives half to the 
boy's Tandan. The Tandans exchange betel leaves, each 
giving the other four. The boy's Tandan then folds four 
fanams (one rupee) in four betel leaves, which he hands 
to the girl's Tandan, saying " May the conjee ceremony 


be performed " ? The Tandans again exchange betel 
leaves as before, and distribute them to all the castemen 
present, beginning with the uncles of the boy and girl. 
The proceedings in the verandah are now over. The 
next part of the ceremony takes place in the middle room 
of the house, where the mats, lamp, and other articles are 
arranged as before. The two Tandans sit on the mat 
with the boy on the right and the girl on the left, facing 
east. The boy's uncle stands in front of the Tandans, 
facing west, and the girl's uncle behind them, facing east. 
The boy's father gives to the boy's uncle two new plain 
white cloths, with twenty-one fanams (Rs. 5-4) placed on 
them. When presenting them, he says " Let the Adaya- 
1am be performed " three times, and the girl's uncle says 
thrice " Let me receive the Adayalam." The Tandans 
again exchange betel leaves, and distribute them among 
the castemen. Then follows a feast, and more betel. 
The date of the wedding has now to be fixed. They 
congregate in the middle room once more, and the 
Tandans sit on the mat. The girl's Tandan shares a 
bundle of betel leaves with the boy's Tandan, who, taking 
therefrom four leaves, places two rupees on them, and 
gives them to the girl's Tandan. The boy's party sup- 
plies this money, which is a perquisite of the Tandan. 
When handing over the leaves and the coins, the boy's 
Tandan says "On ... . (naming a date) .... 
and .... (the bride and bridegroom), and friends, 
and four women will come. Then you must give us the 
girl, and you must prepare the food for that day." The 
other Tandan replies " If you bring six cloths and forty- 
two fanams (Rs. 10-8) as kanam, and two fanams for the 
muchenan (the girl's father's sister's son), the girl will be 
sent to you." The cloths should be of a kind called enna 
kacha, each four cubits in length, but they are not now 


procurable. Kanam is a term used in land tenures, for 
which there is no precise equivalent in English. It is 
a kind of mortgage paid by a tenant to a landlord. The 
former is liable to eviction by the latter, when he obtains 
better terms for his land from another tenant — a condition 
of modern growth breeding much mischief and bad blood. 
But, when a tenant is evicted, he is entitled, according to 
law, to the value of certain improvements on the land, 
including eight annas for each tree which he has planted. 
The kanam is paid by the boy's sister or sisters. His 
Tandan addresses his brother-in-law or brothers-in-law 
in the words "On .... (mentioning a date), you 
must come early in the day, with Rs. 10-8 as kanam," 
and gives him or them four betel leaves. Those 
assembled then disperse. The boy's people may not 
go to the girl's house before the day appointed for the 

The next item in connection with a marriage is the 
issue of invitations to the wedding. The senior women 
of the boy's house, and the Tandan, invite a few friends 
to assemble at the house of the bridegroom. The mat, 
lamp, and other articles are placed in the middle room. 
The bridegroom (manavalan) sits on the mat, with a 
friend on either side of him. He has previously bathed, 
and horizontal daubs of sandal paste have been placed on 
his forehead, breast, and arms. He wears a new cloth, 
which has not been washed. H is Tandan has adorned 
him with a gold bracelet on his right wrist, a knife with 
a gold or silver handle at the waist, and a gold or silver 
waist-belt or girdle over the loin-cloth. The bracelet 
must have an ornamental pattern, as plain bracelets are 
not worn by men. The girdle is in the form of a chain. 
Besides these things, he must wear ear-rings, and he 
should have rings on his fingers. His sister who pays 


the kanam dresses in the same style, but her cloths may 
be of silk, white without a pattern in the border, and she 
wears gold bracelets on both wrists. All enjoy a good 
meal, and then set out, and visit first the house of the 
Tandan. He and his wife walk in front, followed by the 
boy's elder sisters, if he has any. Then comes the bride- 
groom with a friend before and behind him, with a few 
women bringing up the rear. At the Tandan's house 
there is another meal, and then three, five, or seven 
houses are visited, and invitation to the wedding given 
in person. The proceedings for the day are thfen over, 
and, after three days, the brother-in-law, uncle, and all 
others receive invitations. 

On the occasion of the marriage ceremony, the barber 
first shaves the bridegroom's head, leaving the usual 
forelock on the crown, which is never cut. He per- 
forms the operation in a little shed to the east of the 
house, and a plantain leaf is placed so that the hair may 
fall on it. As a rule, the barber sits in front of the 
person whose hair he is shaving, while the latter, sitting 
cross-legged on the ground, bends forward. But, on 
this occasion, the bridegroom sits on a low wooden 
stool. Close by are a lamp and a measure of rice 
on a plantain leaf. The barber also shaves the two 
friends of the bridegroom (changathis), and receives 
a fanam and the rice for his trouble. The three youths 
then bathe, smear themselves with sandal paste, and 
proceed to dress. The bridegroom must wear round 
the loins a white cloth, new and unwashed. Round 
the top of the loin cloth he wears a narrow waist-band 
(kacha) of silk, from 14 to 21 cubits in length, with the 
ends hanging in front and behind. Over the shoulders 
is thrown a silk lace handkerchief. He puts in his 
ears gold ear-rings, round the neck a necklace called 


chakra (wheel) mala,* on the right wrist a gold bracelet, 
gold rings on the fingers, a gold or silver chain round 
the loins, and a gold or silver-handled knife with a sheath 
of the same metal. The two companions are dressed in 
much the same way, but they wear neither necklace nor 
bracelet. The women wear as many ornaments as they 
please. Sisters of the bridegroom must wear bracelets 
on both wrists, a necklace, and a silk cloth (virali) on the 
shoulders. The bracelet worn by men is called vala, and 
must be made of one piece of metal. Those worn by 
women are called kadakam, and must be made in two 
pieces. When all are ready, mats, and other things are 
once more placed in the middle room, and the bride- 
groom and his two companions sit on the mats. They 
at once rise, and proceed to the little shed which has 
been erected in the front yard, and again seat themselves 
on the mats, which, with the other articles, have been 
brought thither from the middle room. Then the Tandan 
gives betel to the bridegroom and his two companions, 
who must chew it. The Tandan's wife, the elder woman 
of the house, and the bridegroom's sisters sprinkle rice 
on their heads. The Tandan gives a sword to the 
bridegroom and each of his companions. The procession 
then starts. In front walk two Nayars supplied by the 
Koyma of the desam (represented by the Nayar landlord). 
Then come the Tandan and a few elders, followed by the 
Tandan's wife and some of the elder women, the bride- 
groom with his two companions, his sisters, and finally the 
general crowd. As the procession moves slowly on, 
there is much dancing, and swinging of swords and 
shields. At the bride's house, the party is received by 

* Other kinds of necklaces are the mullapu (jasmine flower) mala, avil 
(beaten rice) mala, so called from the shape of the links, mani mala or bead neck- 
lace, and pavirham (coral) mala. These are all worn by women. 


the wife of the Tandan of the tara holding a lighted 
lamp, the oldest woman of the family with a plate 
containing a measure of rice and a folded cloth, and 
another woman, who may be a friend, with a kindi of 
water. They sprinkle a little rice on the heads of the 
party as they- enter the yard. The bridegroom sits on a 
mat, close to which the lamp and other articles are set. 
The bride's Tandan takes charge of the swords, betel 
is distributed, and a hearty meal partaken of. The six 
cloths, which the bridegroom is required to bring are in 
reality three double cloths, one of which is for the use of 
the bride. It is the privilege of the bridegroom's sisters 
and the Tandan's wife to dress her. Her waist-cloth is 
tied in a peculiar way for the occasion, and she is 
enveloped from head to foot in a silken cloth, leaving 
only the eyes visible. The bridegroom, after his arrival 
at the bride's house, has to put on a peculiar turban of 
conical shape, made of a stiff towel-like material, tied 
round with a silk handkerchief. The bridegroom's sister 
leads the bride to the little shed (pandal) in the yard, and 
seats her behind the bridegroom. The kanam, and the 
remaining four cloths are then given by the bride- 
groom's sister to the bride's mother, and they, having tied 
a silk handkerchief across the body like a Brahman's 
thread, stand behind the bridegroom, the mother to the 
right and the sister to the left. The latter says three 
times " Let the kanam be given," and hands^it to the 
bride's mother, who, as she receives it, says thrice " Let 
me receive the kanam," The mother at once hands it 
over to her husband, or the senior male member of the 
family. The Tandan then places plantain leaves, for 
use as plates, before the bridegroom and his two com- 
panions, and, facing the bridegroom, holds a vessel of 
cooked rice in front of him. The bride's mother, standing 


behind him, serves out thrice some rice out of the pot on 
to the leaf in front of the bridegroom, and the Tandan 
does the same for his two companions. The bride's 
mother then mixes some plantains, pappadams (large 
thin biscuits), sugar, and ghi (clarified butter) with the 
rice on the bridegroom's leaf-plate, and offers the food 
to him three times. She will not, however, allow him to 
taste it. It is taken from his lips, and removed by the 
washerwomen. The bridegroom's sister has the same 
play with the bride. The rice, which has thus been 
made a feature of the ceremony, is called ayini. A few 
days prior to the marriage, two small bundles of betel 
leaves, each containing areca nuts, half a dozen tobacco 
leaves, and two fanams are given by the bridegroom to 
the Nayar chieftain of the desam as his fee for furnishing 
an escort. In return for these offerings, he gives a new 
cloth to the bridegroom. Three measures of raw rice, 
ten or twelve pappadams, plantains, a cocoanut, and 
some dry uncooked curry-stuff are given by the bride- 
groom to each of the Nayars provided as escort on 
the eve of the marriage. When they arrive on the 
scene on the wedding day, they are given some beaten 
rice, rice cakes, cocoanuts, plantains, and a drink of 
arrack (spirit). When the bride's parents and relations 
come for the Vathil ceremony, the same escort is pro- 
vided, and the same presents are given. Just as the 
bridegroom and all are ready to leave, the bride's father's 
sister's son called the machunan, steps forward, and 
demands two fanams from the bridegroom's party in 
return for permission to take away the bride. He gets 
his money, and the party starts for the bridegroom's 
house, after rice has been sprinkled over the heads of 
the contracting couple, the sisters of the bridegroom 
leading the bride. The swords, which have been 

TlYAJ^ 60 

returned by the Tandan, are again used in flourishing 
and dancing e7t route. 

It is a prevalent custom throughout Southern India 
that a girl's father's sister's son has the first right to her 
hand in marriage. This obtains not only among the 
Dravidian peoples, but also among Brahmans. The 
Malayalam word for son-in-law (marumakan) means 
nephew. If a stranger should marry a girl, he also is 
called nephew. But the unmarried nephew, having the 
first admitted right to the girl, must be paid eight annas, 
or two fanams, before he will allow her to be taken away. 
The argument is said to be as follows. A sister pays 
forty-two fanams as kanam for her brother's wife. 
When the product, i.e., a daughter, is transferred to a 
stranger, the son claims compensation on his mother's 
investment at the same rate as that at which a cocoanut 
tree is valued — eight annas. At all events, the nephew 
has the first right to a girl, and must be compensated 
before she can be taken away by another. 

At the bridegroom's house, the party is received by 
the wife of the Tandan and the lady of the house. 
Following the bride should come her parents and other 
relations, two Nayars representing the chieftain, and the 
Tandan of his tara. The formalities with mats and rice 
are gone through as before. Rice is sprinkled over the 
heads, the Tandan receives the swords, and all sit in 
the shed. The ayini rice ceremony is repeated for the 
bride by the bridegroom's mother and sisters. The 
happy pair then proceed to the inner room of the house, 
where sweetmeats are served to them. Then is ob- 
served, as a rule, the asaram or gift ceremony. Relations 
are expected to give 10 1 fanams (Rs. 25-4), but the 
poorest of them are allowed to reduce the gift to 2 1 
fanams (Rs. 5-4), and the others give according to their 


means. These gifts are supposed to be repaid with inter- 
est. The Tandan sees that a regular account of all the 
gifts is made out, and handed over to the bridegroom, 
and receives eight annas for his trouble. The account- 
ant who prepares the accounts, and the person who 
tests the genuineness of the coins, each receives a bundle 
of betel leaves, four areca nuts, and two tobacco leaves. 
Betel leaves, areca nuts, and tobacco, are also given to 
each giver of gifts. After this, there is the vatil or 
house ceremony. Two large bundles of betel leaves are 
prepared, each of which contains a thousand or fifteen 
hundred leaves, and with them are placed forty or fifty 
tobacco leaves, and seventy to a hundred areca nuts. 
The bride's Tandan pays two or four rupees as vatil 
kanam to the Tandan of the bridegroom, who hands the 
money to the bridegroom's father. The bridegroom then 
places one bundle of betel leaves, with half the tobacco 
and areca nuts, before the bride's father, and the other 
before her mother, and they are distributed by the 
Tandan of the girl's tara and his wife among the men 
and women who are present. Sweetmeats are then 
distributed, and the marriage ceremony is concluded. 
A formal visit must be made subsequently by the women 
of the bride's house to the bridegroom's, and is returned 
by the bride and bridegroom. The first visit is paid by 
a party consisting of the bride's mother, her uncle's and 
brother's wives, the wife of the Tandan, and other rela- 
tions. They are expected to bring with them plenty of 
sweetmeats and bread for general distribution. When 
the return visit is made by the bride and bridegroom, the 
sister of the latter, and other relations and friends, should 
accompany them, and they should take with them a lot 
of betel leaves, areca nuts, tobacco, and sweetmeats. 
This exchange of visits does not, however, complete those 


which are de rigueur. For, at the next Onam and Vishu 
festivals, the newly married couple should visit the house 
of the bride's family. Onam is the beginning of the first 
harvest, and Vishu the agricultural new year. On these 
occasions, the bridegroom takes with him the inevitable 
betel leaves, and presents a new cloth to the parents 
of the bride and every one else in the house. When 
the annual Tiruvathira festival takes place between the 
betrothal and marriage ceremonies, the bridegroom is 
expected to send to the temple, through his Tandan and 
one of his own relations, a quantity of ripe and unripe 

The ceremonies which have been described differ 
considerably from those of the Tiyans of North Malabar, 
where the marumakkatayam law of inheritance obtains. 
These are very simple affairs. 

In the Calicut taluk, a man can marry only one wife 
at a time. But, when a wife is barren, a leper, or suffering 
from incurable disease, her husband may, with her formal 
permission, marry another wife. A bride may be of any 
age. Where there is no stipulation as to dowry, it is a 
point of honour to give the girl as many jewels as the 
bridegroom can afford. Widows may remarry. 

Divorce is admissible, when the grounds for it are 
sufficient. And, when we find that incompatibility of 
temper is among these, it is safe to say that it is fairly 
easy of accomplishment. No specific reason need, in 
fact, be assigned. When it is the man who wishes to 
get rid of his wife, he must pay her all her expenses 
towards the marriage, as assessed by persons of the 
caste who fill the role of mediators. He has to give up 
jewels received from his wife's family, and must, in some 
cases, pay the discarded wife something on account of 
her loss of virginity — a circumstance, which might make 


it difficult for her to obtain another husband. If the 
wife wishes to get rid of her husband, she must pay up 
all his expenses towards the marriage. The party found 
to be in the wrong must pay a fee of five to twenty 
rupees to the Tandan and all present, the relations 
excepted. The amount is distributed then and there. 
The procedure to be adopted in effecting divorce is as 
follows. The Tandans of both sides, uncles and relations, 
and sometimes the fathers, assemble at the house of the 
wife, the Tandan, or one of the relations. To the left of 
a burning lamp are placed two small wooden stools. On 
one of these are laid a small towel with four fanams (one 
rupee) tied up in a corner of it, and another towel with a 
little rice and four fanams tied up in it. Close by is the 
other stool, on which the wife's uncle stretches a single 
thread taken from his own cloth. The husband carries 
this stool to the gate, and says three times to the wife's 
brother, father, or uncle — " Your sister's (daughter's or 
niece's) matrimonial connection is severed." He then 
blows away the thread, throws the stool down, and 
departs for ever. This little ceremony cannot be 
performed at the husband's house, as it would involve 
perpetual banishment from his own house. The coins in 
the cloths go to the Tandans. It is the uncle who gives 
these cloths, because it was he who received the two 
cloths at the conjee ceremony. A marriage cannot be 
dissolved unless both parties agree. 

A girl is under pollution for four days from the 
commencement of the first menstrual period. During 
this time she must keep to the north side of the house, 
where she sleeps on a grass mat of a particular kind, in a 
room festooned with garlands of young cocoanut leaves. 
Round the mat is a narrow ridge made of paddy 
(unhusked rice), rice, and flowers of the cocoanut and 


areca palms. A lamp is kept burning, near which are 
placed the various articles already described in connection 
with marriage. Another girl keeps her company and 
sleeps with her, but she must not touch any other person, 
tree or plant. She further must not see the sky, and woe 
betide her if she catches sight of a crow or cat. Her 
diet must be strictly vegetarian, without salt, tamarinds, 
or chillies. She is armed against evil spirits with an iron 
knife carried on her person, or placed on the mat. On 
the first day, she is seated on a wooden stool in the yard 
to the east of the house. The fresh spathe of a cocoanut 
is cut in front of her. The bunch of blossoms is placed 
in a copper pot painted with perpendicular lines of 
chunam (lime), and a horizontal line at the top and 
bottom. The spathe of an areca palm is similarly treated, 
and, if the contents of both spathes are plentiful, it is 
regarded as a good augury of fertility. The wife of the 
girl's uncle, or, if she is married, her husband's sister 
pours some gingelly (Sesamum) oil over her head, on the 
top of which a gold fanam has been placed. Failing 
such relations, the wife of the Tandan officiates. The 
operation is repeated by two other women, relatives if 
possible. The oil is poured from a little cup made 
from a leaf of the jak tree (^Artocarpus integrifolid), 
flows over the forehead, and is received with the 
fanam in a dish. It is a good omen if the coin 
falls with the obverse upwards. Rice is cooked with 
jaggery, and given to the girl. The other women 
partake thereof, and then have a feast by them- 
selves. The anointing with oil is the only bath the girl 
has until the fourth day. On the third day, she is not 
allowed to eat rice in any form, but she may partake of 
any other grain in the form of cakes. Her uncle's wife, 
husband's sister, and other relations, give her presents 



of cakes and bread. During the night, the mattu, or 
cloth-changing ceremony, takes place. First of all, the 
washerman comes along with the washerwoman, carrying 
two washed cloths. In the front yard of the house a 
lamp with an odd number of wicks is burning. In a 
bamboo basket are a small measure (edangali) of paddy 
heaped up on a plantain leaf, a measure of rice on 
another leaf, two separate quarter measures thereof, a 
piece of turmeric, a little straw, a piece of coir (cocoanut 
fibre), and a cocoanut. As soon as he enters, the 
washerman, using the straw and coir skilfully, makes 
a bundle of the contents of the basket, and places it near 
the lamp, which is standing on a wooden stool. A 
cocoanut is cut in half, and placed, half on each side, by 
the stool. Thereon is set a flat bell-metal dish, contain- 
ing a little rice and seven rolls of betel leaves and 
areca nuts. The washerwoman, having received the 
mattu from the woman, places it on his head and proceeds 
to sing a song, at the conclusion of which he says 
solemnly three times " Let me place the mattu." He 
then places the cloths on the bundle, which is on the 
stool. The girl's uncle's wife, and four other women, 
have by this time emerged from the middle room of the 
house, carrying a lighted lamp, a plate with a measure 
of rice, and a kindi as before. The uncle's wife, having 
covered her breast with a silk cloth, and wearing all her 
ornaments, leads the other four women as they walk 
thrice round the mattu. She then places a fanam (or a 
four-anna piece) on the mattu, lifts the stool, bundle and 
all, with one hand on the mattu and the other below the 
stool, and leads the procession of the women, with the 
lamp and other articles, to the room where the girl 
has been sleeping. She deposits her burden near the 
spot where the girl has laid her head. A general feast 


then takes place, and the washerman appropriates the 
fanam, and the paddy and rice spread in the yard. So 
ends the third day of these strange observances. On 
the fourth day, the girl bathes in a neighbouring pool, 
with some ceremonial. Before she leaves the house, 
the washerman fixes in the ground a branch of a certain 
tree, to the top and bottom of which he ties the two 
ends of a long line of thin coir rope or yarn. This is sup- 
posed to represent the bow of KsLma, the Indian Cupid. 
He erects a miniature temple-like structure of young 
cocoanut leaves, with the stems of young plantains near 
it, by the side of the pool. Close to it, he places a 
burning lamp, and a small quantity of rice and paddy, 
each on a separate plantain leaf. Near them he sets 
a cocoanut, which has been blackened with charcoal, 
on some rice spread on a plantain leaf, a cocoanut 
reddened with turmeric and chunam on raw rice, and 
another on a leaf, containing fried paddy.* He 
further deposits a few plantains, and two other cocoa- 
nuts. Before the girl leaves the house, clad in one 
of the cloths brought on the previous night, she is 
well rubbed all over with oil, and the four or six 
women f who accompany her are similarly treated. 
Leading the way, they are followed by a number of 
women to the pool, where the girl and her companions 
bathe. After the bath, they stand by the side of the 
pool, facing east and holding lighted cotton-wicks in 
their hands, and go round the miniature temple three 
times, throwing the wicks into it. The washerman 
again breaks out into song, accompanying himself by 

* Ordinarily, paddy is partly boiled before it is pounded to remove the husk. 
Raw rice is obtained by pounding the paddy, which has not undergone any 

t There must in all be five or seven females. 


striking a bell-metal plate with a stick. When he has 
finished, and gone through a little more business on his 
own account, the girl's husband or brother (if she is 
unmarried) appears on the scene. He holds aloft the 
coir string, under the lower end of which a cocoanut has 
been placed on the ground. The girl passes three 
times forwards and backwards without touching it. 
Two cotton wicks, lighted at both ends, are laid on the 
cocoanut, and the girl should cut the wicks and the 
cocoanut through, completely severing them, with one 
blow of a strong knife or chopper. If she is successful, 
the omen is considered good. The girl, with her party, 
then bathes a second time. As she comes out of the 
water, she kicks out backwards like a mule, and sends 
the stem with the single cocoanut attached flying into 
the water with her right foot. The second mattu cloth 
is then brought, and she is clad in it. Then she is full 
dressed and ornamented and led back to the house with 
a silk canopy over her head. She is taken to the 
middle room, and cakes and rice are given to her to eat. 
A feast is then held. The girl has so far been purified 
as regards most affairs of life, but she cannot touch any 
cooking-vessel until she has undergone yet another 
ceremony. This takes place on the seventh or ninth 
day after the first appearance of the menses. Every 
day until then the girl is rubbed with gingelly oil and 
turmeric. Three ordinary earthenware cooking-pots are 
piled, one above the other, in the kitchen. The upper- 
most pot contains cooked rice, the middle one rice 
boiled with jaggery, and the lowest curry. The pots 
must be new, and are marked with perpendicular daubs 
of chunam. Seated on a low wooden stool to the west 
of the pots, the girl, facing the east, touches each pot 
with a knife. When the first of all these menstruation 

VII-5 B 


ceremonies has taken place at the house of the girl's 
husband, her mother brings some cakes on this last day. 
If it has been performed at her father's house, her 
husband's sister should bring the cakes. They are distri- 
buted among all present, and a small meal is partaken 
of. All the expenses of the first, and seventh or ninth 
day ceremonies, are borne by the people of the house, 
who may be those of the family of the girl's father or 
husband. The expenses of the ceremonial of the fourth 
day are defrayed by the girl's husband if they have been 
performed at her father's house, and vice versa. 

The young wife has an easy time of it until the fifth 
month of her pregnancy, when she must again submit to 
becoming the subject for ceremonial. Then takes place 
the Belikala, for the purpose of appeasing some of the 
many malignant spirits, who are unceasing in their 
attempts to destroy infants in the womb. This consists 
for the most part of offerings, which are repeated in 
the seventh month. They are performed by members 
of the Mannan (washerman) and Panan (exorcists and 
devil-dancers) castes. At the commencement thereof, 
there is a feast. A structure, in shape something like 
a Muhammadan taboot, * about five feet in height, is 
erected in the front yard of the house. It is made of 
stems of young plantain trees, and festooned with 
leaves of young cocoanut palms. The floor of the little 
edifice, and the ground outside it to the west, are strewn 
with charcoal made from paddy husk, on which are made 
magic squares of white rice flour, intermingled with red, 
green, and yellow, each colour being compounded with 
specified substances. The squares are not always the 
same, but are prepared for each occasion, so as to suit 

* The taboot is a model of a Muhammadan mausoleum, intended to represent 
the tomb of Husain, which is carried io procession during the Moharram festival. 


the particular spirit which is to be invoked and appeased. 
The pregnant fvoman, with six female companions, 
leaves the middle room of the house, carrying the usual 
lamp and other articles, and they walk seven times round 
the edifice. Before completing the last round, each 
throws into it a burning wick. They then stand to the 
west of it, facing east, and sit down. The Mannans 
invoke the spirit in song, accompanied by the clang of 
metal plates beaten with sticks. Drums must not be 
used. The music and weird devil-dancing go on more 
or less all night, and by morning some of the most ner- 
vous of the women, overcome by the spirit, go into fits. 
The fees for the devil-dancing are paid by the pregnant 
woman's father. Last of all, a live cock is held against 
the forehead of the woman, mantrams (magical formulae) 
are repeated, and rice is thrown over her head. If she 
should have a fit, the head of the cock is cut off, and the 
blood offered to the demon spirit. If, however, she 
does not suffer from undue excitement, the cock is 
simply removed alive. She is left in peace for the next 
two months, when she goes to her father's house, at 
which there is more devil-dancing at another Belikala 
ceremony. The fees are paid by the woman's husband. 
They vary from five to thirty-two rupees, according to 
the cost of the edifice which is erected, and the quality 
of the dancing. The invocation of some of the devils 
requires specially trained dancers who must be paid high 
fees. On the morning following the dance, the tamarind 
juice drinking ceremony takes place at the house of 
the woman's father. The fees in connection with this 
are debited to the husband. Taking advantage of an 
auspicious moment, the husband and two companions 
bathe in the early morning, and make a neat toilette, 
the husband wearing a necklace. They then go to the 


nearest tamarind, and pluck three small leafy twigs, 
which they bring to the house. The husband's sister 
pounds the leaves in a mortar in a little shed or pandal 
in the front yard. The juice is then strained through a 
new double cloth eight cubits in length by the husband's 
sisters. If he has no sisters, this should be done by his 
and his wife's mothers. Rice conjee is then prepared 
w ith water, in which the tamarind juice has been mixed. 
The husband, and his two companions, sit under the 
pandal, where the usual lamp and other articles have 
been placed, with the wife behind him. Her brother 
then feeds him thrice with the conjee from a small gold 
spoon. The husband's sister feeds the wife in like 
manner. One of the three twigs is planted by the 
husband in the front yard, and his wife waters it every 
day until the child is born. In the ninth month, the 
husband's sister presents his wife with a couple of 
pounds of cummin seed and jaggery. The woman 
who brings this little gift should be given some cakes 
and sweetmeats. During pregnancy, a woman always 
wears an amulet concealed within a cylindrical tube on 
her neck, to protect her against malignant spirits. 

The young wife's child is born at her father's house, 
where she is under the care of her mother. When the 
child is born, the brother of the newly made mother goes 
out into the yard, and strikes the ground three times with 
the stem of a dry cocoanut palm leaf. If the child is a 
boy, he emits a long drawn out ku-u-u-u in high falsetto 
as he does so. It is then the duty of the brother and 
the midwife to go and inform the father of the event. 
The midwife receives from him her fee, and a present 
of a cloth, and other presents from his sisters. If the 
child is a boy, the brother receives a cloth, and, if a 
girl, a cloth and a bell-metal plate, 


The event of the birth of a child carries with it, as in 
the case of death, pollution to every one in the house. 
This is partially removed by ceremonies on the third 
day, and wholly by further ceremonies on the ninth 
or eleventh day, whichever happens to be the more 
auspicious — a Tuesday for example. Any one coming 
to the house before the first ceremonies have taken 
place must bathe and wash his or her cloth to remove 
the pollution. Any one visiting the house after the first, 
but before the second ceremony, need not bathe, but 
cannot eat any food in the house. The men of the 
household can get no rice at home until after the second 
ceremony has been performed, and they are consequently 
compelled to board elsewhere for the time being. A 
washerwoman carries out the purification rites, assisted 
by a barber woman. First of all, the floors of all the 
rooms are smeared with cow-dung. All clothes in use 
are given to the washerwoman. The women rub their 
bodies all over with oil, and the washerwoman brings 
mattu for them. The barber woman sprinkles a mix- 
ture of cow's milk and karuka grass leaves over the 
women, who then go to a pool and bathe. When the 
milk is about to be sprinkled, the usual lamp, rice on 
a metal plate, and kindi of water are produced. The 
barber woman takes the rice and one fanam, and receives 
also some cocoanut and gingelly {Sesamtim) oil. Much 
the same things are given to the washerwoman. The 
second ceremony is just like the first, but, even after 
its completion, the women of the house cannot touch 
any cooking-vessels until after the fifteenth day. The 
ceremony of touching the cooking pots, as at the time 
of the first menstrual period, is then performed. These 
three purificatory ceremonies must be performed after 
every birth. 


On the twenty-seventh or fortieth day after the birth 
of a child, the mother and the infant are taken back to 
the husband's house, and cow's milk is for the first time 
given to the child. This event, which has all the 
solemnity of a regular function, takes place in the middle 
room, where the lamp, mat and other articles have been 
arranged. The child's paternal grandfather, father's 
elder brother, or other senior man administers the milk, 
which has been boiled. A gold bracelet is dipped in it, 
and the drops of milk are made to fall into the child's 
mouth. As this is being done, the celebrant whispers in 
the child's right ear the name which will be formally 
given to it in the sixth month. The eldest son is always 
named after the paternal grandfather, and the second after 
the father. In like manner, the eldest girl is named 
after its own mother. Relations and friends take this 
opportunity to make presents of bracelets and other 
articles to the infant. A feast is then held. After the 
ceremony is over, the parents of the child's mother have 
to send about half a bag of rice flour mixed with jaggery 
to her husband's house. 

For the first six months of its life, a child's food con- 
sists of nature's fount and cow's milk. It is then, before 
the sixth month is over, given boiled rice for the first 
time. The ceremony takes place either in the middle 
room of its father's house, or at a temple. The child's 
grandfather, or the eldest male member of the family, 
sits on a mat, and takes the child in his lap. With a 
gold ring he applies honey three times to its mouth, and 
then gives it a little rice three times. Female relations 
who are present follow his example, giving the child first 
honey, and then rice. Several women, with the lighted 
lamp and other articles, carry the child into the yard, to 
show it the sky. They go round a cocoanut tree, and 


stand before the front door, facing west. An elder 
among the women of the house stands at the front door, 
calls out the name of the child three times, and asks it 
to come inside. The relations give little presents of 
ornaments, and there is a feast. 

It will be observed that even a child's life is not 
entirely free from ceremonial. When it has grown up, 
it undergoes more of it, and, when it has lived its course 
on earth, is the subject of still more ceremonial long after 
it is dead. All these affairs involve some expenditure, 
but the one which literally runs away with money is 
marriage. The others are not extravagances, nor are 
they as costly as might be implied from the continual 
feasting of a large number of people. We must not 
think of these feasts as of a banquet at the Carlton, 
but as simple affairs, at which simple people are content 
with simple though pleasing fare. 

When a child is provided by nature with teeth, it is 
the subject of a little ceremony, during which it is 
expected to disclose its natural propensities. The usual 
mat and other articles are arranged, and there are in addi- 
tion a large flat bell-metal plate containing a rice cake, a 
knife, a palmyra leaf grantham (book), a cocoanut, and 
a gold ornament. The child is let loose, and allowed to 
pick out anything from the plate. If it takes the cake, it 
will be greedy ; if the knife, brave ; if the book, learned ; if 
the cocoanut, a landlord ; and, if the gold ornament, rich. 

A child's head is shaved in the third or fifth year. 
The barber, who performs the operation, is allowed to 
take away the rice which, with the lamp, is at hand. He 
also receives a fanam and a new cloth. The people of 
the child's mother bring rice cakes. 

The last day of the Dasara festival in the fifth year 
of a child's life is that on which instruction in the 


alphabet begins. A teacher, who has been selected with 
care, or a lucky person holds the child's right hand, and 
makes it trace the fifty-one letters of the Malayalam 
alphabet on raw rice spread on a plate. The fore-finger, 
which is the one used in offering water to the souls of 
the dead and in other parts of the death ceremonies, must 
not be used for tracing the letters, but is placed above 
the middle finger, merely to steady it. For the same 
reason, a doctor, when making up a pill, will not use the 
fore-finger. When, later on, the child goes to the village 
school, the fifty-one letters are written one by one on its 
tongue with a gold style, if one is available. As each 
letter is formed, the child has to repeat the sound of it. 

The lobes of both a child's ears are bored with a 
golden pin or a thorn. The helix of the ear is not bored 
for the purpose of inserting ornaments in it, but is 
sometimes bored as a remedy for disease, e.g., hernia. 
Everywhere else in Southern India, it is common for 
people of almost every class to have the helix of the left 
ear bored. 

The tali-tying ceremony must be performed before a 
girl attains puberty. The Tiyan tali is usually of gold, 
and worth about half-a-crown. It is not the one which 
is worn in every day life, but the one which is used in 
the ceremony about to be described. Throughout 
Southern India, the tali is the ordinary symbol of 
marriage among Hindus, and it is even worn by Syrian 
Christians. In Malabar, and the Native States of 
Cochin and Travancore, it is a symbol of marriage, with 
which a girl is ceremoniously adorned, as a rule before 
she is affianced. The ceremony occupies three days, on 
the last of which the tali is tied. On the first day, a 
shed or pandal is erected in the front yard. Within it a 
similar structure is prepared with the leaves of an areca 


palm, which has been cut down at an auspicious moment, 
and with the formal sanction of the Tandan of the tara. 
This inner pandal is tastefully decorated with pictures 
and flowers. It is important to note that this little 
pandal must not be begun until the first day of the 
ceremony. On this day, the carpenter of the tara brings 
a low wooden seat, rather long and narrow, made from 
the pala tree {Alsionia scholaris), which must be cut at 
an auspicious moment, for which he receives one fanam. 
This seat is called mana.* A grass mat is spread in the 
middle room of the house, with a white cloth over it, on 
which the mana is placed. A lamp, vessel of water, and 
the usual paraphernalia are arranged on the ground 
to the south close by. When these preliminaries have 
been completed, the girl is brought by the uncle's wife to 
the pandal, and seated on a stool. In front of her, a 
lamp, and other things which are a feature in all 
ceremonials, and a measure of paddy are placed on the 
ground, a gold fanam is put on her head, and over it 
gingelly oil is poured. As the coin falls from the 
forehead, it is caught in a cup. It is important which 
side falls uppermost. The girl is then taken to a pool 
for bathing, and returns to the pandal. She is conducted 
to the middle room of the house in procession, with a 
silk canopy over her head and women carrying lamps, etc. 
She is confined in this room, which is decorated in the 
manner described when speaking of the menstruation 
ceremony, until the third day. She sleeps on a mat, 
surrounded by a little ridge of rice and paddy, cocoanut 
and areca palm flowers, and near her head is a copper 
pot marked with vertical daubs of white. The blacksmith 
of the tara brings a little stick, called charathkot, with 

* Manavalan = bridegroom ; Manavati = bride. 


an iron blade at one end, which is supposed to represent 
an arrow of Kama. This the girl keeps constantly at 
her side, and carries in her hand when compelled by 
nature to leave the room. While confined in the room, 
she is not allowed to eat fish, flesh, or salt, or see any 
animals, especially a cat, dog, or crow. On the third 
day, the tali is prepared on the spot by the village gold- 
smith. The girl's uncle gives him the gold, which he 
melts, and works at in the pandal at an auspicious moment. 
The paddy and rice, which, with the lamp and vessel of 
water, have been in evidence during the operations, are 
given to the goldsmith, with a fanam for his labour. A 
weaver brings two new cloths, of a particular kind called 
mantra-kodi, for which the girl's uncle pays. One is 
worn by the girl, and the mana is covered with the other. 
The girl is taken to bathe, and, after the bath, is richly 
dressed and ornamented, and brought in procession, with 
a canopy over her head, to the house, where she is 
conducted to the inner room. The mana is then placed, 
with the cloth near it, on a grass mat in the inner pandal. 
The uncle's wife sits on the mat, and the uncle lifts the 
girl, carries her three times round the pandal, and 
deposits her in his wife's lap. The astrologer, who is 
present, indicates the moment when the tali should be 
tied. The girl's father gives him a fanam, and receives 
from him a little rice, called muhurtham (auspicious 
time). When the psychological moment has arrived he 
sprinkles the rice on the girl's head, saying "It is time." 
The tali is then tied round the girl's neck by the uncle's 
wife. At the upper end of the tali is a ring, through 
which the thread passes. The thread which is used for 
the purpose is drawn from the cloth with which the mana 
has been covered. [It is odd that there are some families 
of Nayars, who are not allowed to use a tali with a ring 


to receive the string, and are therefore obliged to 
make a hole in the tali itself.] As soon as the 
tali has been tied on the girl's neck, a number of 
boys burst into song, praising Ganapathi (the elephant 
god), and descriptive of the marriage of King Nala and 
Damayanti, or of Sri Krishna and Rukmani. Every 
one joins in, and the song ends with shouts and hurrahs. 
A mock feeding ceremony is then carried out. Three 
plantain leaves are spread in front of the girl in the 
pandal, and rice, plantains, and pappadams are spread 
thereon. The uncle's wife offers some of each to the 
girl three times, but does not allow her to touch it with 
her lips. The girl is then taken to a temple, to invoke 
the God's blessing. 

The description which has just been given is that 
of the ceremony which is performed, if the girl has not 
been affianced. If a husband has been arranged for her, 
it is he who ties the tali, and his sister takes the place 
of the uncle's wife. Otherwise the ceremony is the 
same, with this difference, however, that, when the 
husband ties the tali, there can be no divorce, and the 
girl cannot remarry in the event of his death. 

In North, as in South Malabar, the tali-tying cere- 
mony is always performed before puberty, and occupies 
four days. This is the orthodox procedure. The girl 
wears a cloth provided by the washer woman. She is 
taken from the middle room of the house to the yard, 
and there seated on a plank of pala wood. Placed in 
front of her are a small measure of rice and paddy, a 
washed white cloth, and a small bell-metal vessel (kindi) 
on a bell-metal plate. The barber pours cocoanut water 
on her head, on which a silver and copper coin have 
been placed. One of her relations then pours water 
from a vessel containing some raw rice over her head, 


using two halves of a cocoanut as a spout. The girl is 
then taken back to the middle room, where she remains 
for three days. There is a feast in the evening. On 
the fourth day, a pandal is erected in the front yard, 
and decorated. The girl is taken to bathe at a neigh- 
bouring pool, preceded by women carrying a lamp, 
a kindi of water, and other things which have been 
already described. During her absence, the barber per- 
forms puja to Ganapathi in the pandal. After bathing, 
she cuts a cocoanut in half, and returns in procession, 
with a silk canopy over her head, amid music and singing, 
and enters the middle room of the house. The barber 
woman ties a gold ornament (netti pattam) on her fore- 
head, which she marks with sandal paste, and blackens 
her eyes with eye-salve. The uncle's wife, preceded by 
women bearing a lamp and other articles, carries the 
mana, covered with cloth, from the middle room to the 
pandal. She walks three times round the pandal, and 
places the mana on a grass mat, over which has been 
spread some paddy and some rice where the girl will 
put her foot. The women who have carried the lamp, 
etc., return to the room, and escort the girl to the pandal. 
She walks thrice round it, and takes her seat on the 
mana. The barber hands her a little rice, which she 
throws on the lighted lamp, and articles which have been 
used in the puja to Ganapathi, and on the post support- 
ing the south-west corner of the pandal. This post 
should be of pala wood, or have a twig of that tree tied 
to it. More rice is handed to the girl, and she throws 
it to the cardinal points of the compass, to the earth, 
and to the sky. A small earthen pot containing rice, 
a cocoanut, betel, and areca nuts, is placed near the girl. 
Into this a variety of articles, each tied up separately in 
a piece of plantain leaf, are placed. These consist of a 


gold coin, a silver coin, salt, rice, paddy, turmeric, 
charcoal, and pieces of an old cadjan leaf from the thatch 
of the house. The mouth of the pot is then covered 
over with a plantain leaf tied with string. The girl 
sprinkles rice three times over the pot, makes a hole 
in the leaf, and picks out one of the articles, which is 
examined as an augur of her destiny. Betel leaves and 
areca nuts are then passed twice round her head, and 
thrown away. She next twists off a cocoanut from a 
bunch hanging at a corner of the pandal. Then follows 
the presentation of cloths called mantra-kodi. These 
must be new, and of a particular kind. Each of her 
relations throws one of these cloths over the girl's head. 
Half of them (perhaps ten or twelve) go to the barber, 
who, at this point, pours cocoanut water from the leaf 
of a banyan tree on her head, on which a silver and 
copper coin have been placed. The astrologer is then 
asked whether it is time to tie the tali, and replies three 
times in the affirmative. The barber woman hands the 
tali strung on a thread to the girl's uncle's wife, who ties 
it round the girl's neck. The barber woman then pours 
water on the girl's hands. Three times the water is 
flung upwards, and then to the east, west, south, and 
north. A cotton wick, steeped in oil, is then twisted 
round a piece of bamboo, and stuck on a young cocoanut. 
The girl is asked if she sees the sun, looks at the lighted 
wick, and says that she does. She is then taken to a 
cocoanut tree, preceded by the lamp, etc. She walks 
three times round the tree, and pours water over the 
root. The ceremony is now concluded, and the girl is 
marched back to the middle room. 

A variation of the tali-tying ceremony, as performed 
in Chavakad on the coast between Calicut and Cochin, 
may be briefly described, because it possesses some 


interesting features. It is always done by the intended 
husband, or some one representing him. Seven days 
prior to the beginning of the ceremony, the carpenter 
of the tara, with the permission of the Tandan (here 
called Avakasi), cuts down an areca palm, and fixes part 
of it as the south-east post of the booth, at which the 
tali will be tied. On the sixth day, the girl is formally 
installed in the middle room of the house. The carpenter 
brings a mana of pala wood, the cost of which is paid by 
the father, and does puja to it. The bridegroom's party 
arrive. A lamp is lighted in the booth, which is at this 
time partly, but not entirely, made ready. Near the 
lamp are placed a measure of paddy, half a measure 
(nazhi) of rice, a looking-glass, a kindi of water, and 
a wooden cheppu (a rude vessel with a sliding cover). 
The wives of the Tandan and uncle, together with some 
other women, bring the girl, and seat her on the mana. 
The uncle's wife parts her hair, and places a gold fanam 
on her crown. The Tandan's wife then pours a little oil 
on it over a leaf of the jak tree three times. The other 
women do the same. The girl is then taken to a pool, 
and bathed. Before her return, the mana should be 
placed ready for her in the middle room of the house. 
In the evening there is a feast. On the day but one 
following, the tali is tied. The last post of the booth is 
put up, and it is completed and decorated on the tali- 
tying day. A lamp, looking-glass, and other things are 
put in it. A grass mat is spread on the floor, and a 
kambli (blanket) and a whitewashed cloth are placed 
over it. On either side of it is placed a pillow. The 
bridegroom and his party wait in an adjoining house, 
for they must not appear on the scene until the psycho- 
logical moment arrives. The Tandan of the bridegroom's 
tara, with a fe^ friends, comes first, and hands over two 


8 1 TIYAN 

cloths and ten rupees eight annas to the bride's Tandan. 
The girl is dressed in one of these cloths, and led to the 
booth, the bridegroom's sister holding her by the hand. 
She sits on the mana, which has been brought, and placed 
on the cloth, by her uncle. The bridegroom comes in 
procession, carried on his uncle's shoulders. The girl is 
still a child, and he is only a few years her senior. His 
uncle puts him down on the right side of the girl, after 
walking thrice round the booth. The girl's uncle's wife 
sits close to her, on the other side, on the mana. Her 
father asks the astrologer three times if it is the proper 
time to tie the tali, and is answered thrice in the 
affirmative. Then the boy bridegroom ties the tali on 
the girl's neck. The boy and girl sing out a chorus in 
praise of Ganapathi, and end up with three loud shouts 
and hurrahs. Then the boy seats himself on the ground, 
outside the pillow. The girl is taken inside the house, 
and, after a general feast, is brought back, and seated on 
the mana, and rice and flowers are sprinkled. No money 
is paid to the uncle's son, as at Calicut. The boy bride- 
groom pays eight annas to his sister for leading the 
bride by the hand. When the marriage has been done 
by proxy, the boy bridegroom is selected from a tarwad 
into which the girl might marry. He stays at the girl's 
house for three days, and, on the fourth day, the boy and 
girl are taken to a temple. A formal divorce is effected, 
and the boy is taken away. 

It will not be worth while to attempt a description of 
the marriage ceremony of the Tiyans of North Malabar, 
because there is none, or next to none. There the 
Tiyans and all classes, including even the Muhammadan 
Mappillas, follow the rule of marumakkatayam, or inheri- 
tance through females from uncle to nephew. The 
children have no right to their father's property. Either 


party may annul the marital union at will, without 
awarding any compensation ; and, as its infraction is 
easy and simple, so is its institution. Nor is there any 
rigid inquiry as to the antecedents of either party. It 
is an affair of mutual arrangement, attended with little 
formality. Proceeding to the girl's house, accompanied 
by a few friends, the intending husband takes with him 
a couple of cloths, one for the girl, and the other for her 
mother. In parts of North Malabar, the Tiyan women 
wear an ornament called chittu (ring) in a hole bored in 
the top of the helix of each ear. The holes are bored in 
childhood, but the chittu is not worn until the girl forms 
a marital union with a man. The chittus are made on 
the spot at the time, in the marriage pandal erected for 
the occasion, the girl's uncle providing the gold. They 
are never removed during life, except in cases of dire 
distress. "To sell chittu" is equivalent to having 
become a pauper. It is supposed that, in olden days, the 
marriage ceremonies lasted over seven days, and were 
subsequently reduced to seven meals, or three and a half 
days, and then to one day. Now the bridegroom remains 
the first night at the bride's house, and then takes her to 
his home. Before they leave, a cocoanut, the outer husk 
of which has been removed, is placed on a stool of pala 
wood, and one of the bridegroom's party must smash it 
with his fist. Some of the more orthodox in North 
Malabar observe the formality of examining horoscopes, 
and a ceremony equivalent to the conjee-drinking cere- 
mony which has been described, called achara kaliana, 
and the payment of kanam in the shape of forty-one 
fanams, instead of forty-two as in South Malabar. In 
connection with fanams it may be noted that the old 
gold fanam is reckoned as worth four annas, whereas 
five silver or velli fanams make a rupee. Everywhere 


in rural Malabar, calculations are made in terms of velli 
fanams thus : — 

lo pice (A" of an anna) = i velli. 

5 vellis = I rupee. 

Bazaar men, and those who sell their small stock at the 
weekly markets all about the country, arrange their prices 
in vellis. 

When the death of a Tiyan is expected, all the 
relations draw near, and await the fateful moment. The 
person who is about to die is laid on the floor of the 
middle room, for it is inauspicious to die on a cot. We 
will suppose that the dying man is a parent and a land- 
lord. Each of the sons and daughters gives him a little 
conjee water, just before he passes away. At the moment 
of death, all the women bawl out in lamentations, giving 
the alarm of death. The Cheruman serfs in the fields 
join in the chorus, and yell out an unintelligible formula 
of their own. Absent relations are all formally invited. 
From the houses of the son's wife and daughter's husband 
are sent quantities of jak fruits, unripe plantains, and 
cocoanuts, as death gifts. One half of the husks of the 
cocoanuts is removed, and the other half left on the shell. 
After the cremation or burial, these articles are distributed 
among those present by the Tandan, who receives an 
extra share for his trouble. When life is extinct, the 
body is placed with the head to the south, and the 
thumbs and big toes are tied together. It is then taken 
out into the yard, washed, bathed in oil, dressed in a new 
cloth, and brought ack to the middle room. A cocoanut 
is cut in two, and the two halves, with a lighted wick on 
each, are placed at the head and foot. The house- 
owner spreads a cotton cloth over the corpse, and 
all the relations, and friends, do the same. Any one 
who wishes to place a silk cloth on the corpse may 
vn-6 B 


do so, but he must cover it with a cotton cloth. The 
body is then removed for burial or cremation, and placed 
near the grave or funeral pyre. It is the rural rule that 
elderly persons and karnavans of tarwads are cremated, 
and others buried. The barber, whose function it is to 
perform the purificatory rites, now removes, and retains 
as his perquisite, all the cloths, except the last three 
covering the corpse. As it is being borne away to the 
place of burial or cremation, water mixed with cow-dung 
is sprinkled behind it in the yard. The eldest son, who 
succeeds to the property and is responsible for the fune- 
ral ceremonies, then tears crosswise a piece of the cloth 
which has been placed over the corpse by the people of 
the house, and ties it round his forehead. He holds one 
end of the cloth while the barber holds the other, and 
tears off the piece. The barber then cuts three holes in 
the remainder of this cloth covering the body, over the 
mouth, navel, and pubes. A little water and rice are 
poured over a gold fanam through the slit over the mouth. 
All who observe the death pollution, i.e., sons, grand- 
sons, nephews, younger brothers and cousins, offer water 
and rice in the same manner, and walk three times round 
the grave or pyre. The barber then breaks a pot of 
water over the grave. No other ceremonial is observed 
on this day, on which, and during the night, rice must 
not be eaten. If the body has been cremated, a watch 
is kept at the burning ground for five days by Panans, 
who beat drums all night to scare away the evil spirits 
which haunt such spots. Early on the second day, all 
who are under pollution are shaved. The operation is 
attended with some ceremonial, and, before it is com- 
menced, a lighted lamp, a measure of rice and paddy on 
a plantain leaf must be at hand. The paddy and rice are 
a perquisite of the barber. Those who have been shaved 


bathe, and then follows the crow-feeding ceremony. 
Rice is boiled in a bell-metal vessel over a hearth pre- 
pared with three young cocoanuts. The eldest son, who 
tore the cloth of succession from the corpse, makes the 
rice into two little balls, places them on a plantain leaf, 
and offers them to the spirit of the departed by pouring 
libations of water on them over a blade of karuka grass. 
Men and women who are under pollution then do the 
same. The rice balls are eaten by crows. This little 
ceremony is performed daily until the eleventh or 
thirteenth day, when the period of death pollution comes 
to an end. If the eleventh day happens to fall on a 
Tuesday or Friday, or on any inauspicious day, the period 
is extended to the thirteenth day. When the period of 
death pollution is partly in one month, and partly in 
another, another death in the house within the year is 
expected. Preceding the sanchayanam, which occupies 
the fifth day, there is the lamp-watching on the previous 
night. In the south-east corner of the middle room, a 
little paddy is heaped up, and on it is placed a bell-metal 
plate with an iron lamp having five or seven lighted 
wicks on it. Under the lamp is a little cow-dung, and 
close to it is a bunch of cocoanut flowers. The lamp 
must be kept burning until it is extinguished on the 
following day. I n the case of the death of a male, his 
niece watches the lamp, and in that of a female her 
daughter, lying near it on a grass mat. The sanchayanam 
is the first stage in the removal of death pollution, and, 
until it is over, all who come to the house suffer from 
pollution, and cannot enter their own house or partake 
of any food without bathing previously. When the body 
has been cremated, the fragments of calcined bones are 
collected from the ashes, and carried in procession to the 
sea, or, if this is far away, into a river. The members of 


the family under pollution then rub their bodies all over 
with oil, and the barber sprinkles a mixture of cow's 
milk over their heads, using a blade of karuka grass as 
a spout. They then bathe, and the eldest son alone 
observes mattu. The crow-feeding ceremony follows, 
and, when this is over, the three cocoanuts which were 
used as a hearth are thrown away. A large bell-metal 
vessel filled with water is now placed in the front yard 
before the door of the house. The barber carries the 
still burning lamp from the middle room, and sets it 
on the ground near the pot of water. The women who 
are under pollution come from the middle room, each 
carrying a lighted wick, walk thrice round the pot, and 
throw the wicks into the water. The woman who has 
watched the lamp puts four annas into the pot, and the 
others deposit a few pies therein. The eldest son now 
lights a wick from the iron lamp which is about to be 
extinguished, and with it lights a lamp in the middle 
room. The barber then dips the iron lamp in the water, 
and picks out the money as his perquisite. The water 
is poured on the roots of a cocoanut tree. The bell-metal 
vessel becomes the property of the woman who watched 
the lamp, but she cannot take it away until she leaves 
the house after the pula-kuli ceremony. When the lamp 
has been extinguished, a woman, hired for the occasion, 
is seated on a cocoanut leaf in the front yard. The 
Tandan pours oil on her head three times, and she 
receives a little betel and two annas. She rises, and 
leaves the place without turning back, taking the 
pollution with her. Betel is then distributed. Those 
who provided the death gifts on the day of the death 
must on this day bring with them a bag of rice, and 
about four rupees in money. They have also to give 
eight annas to the barber. A folded handkerchief is first 


presented to the-^barber, who formally returns it, and 
receives instead of it the eight annas. Before the 
people disperse, the day of the pula-kuli is settled. 
Pula-kuli, or washing away the pollution, is the final 
ceremony for putting off the unpleasant consequences of 
a death in a family. First of all, the members thereof 
rub themselves all over with oil, and are sprinkled by 
the barber with cow's milk and gingelly oil. They then 
bathe. The barber outlines the figure of a man or 
woman, according to the sex of the deceased, with rice 
flour and turmeric powder, the head to the south, in the 
middle room of the house. The figure is covered with 
two plantain leaves, on each of which a little rice and 
paddy are heaped. Over all is spread a new cloth, with a 
basket containing three measures of paddy upon it. The 
eldest son (the heir) sits facing the south, and with a 
nazhi measures out the paddy, which he casts to the 
south, east, and west — not the north. He repeats the 
performance, using the fingers of the left hand closed so 
as to form a cup as a measure. Then, closing the first 
and fourth fingers firmly with the thumb, using the left 
hand, he measures some paddy in the same manner with 
the two extended fingers. Rice is treated in the same 
way. A nazhi of paddy, with a lighted wick over it, is 
then placed in a basket. The eldest son takes the 
nazhi in his left hand, passes it behind his body, 
and, receiving it with his right hand, replaces it in the 
basket. The wick is extinguished by sprinkling it with 
water three times. At the head of the figure on the 
floor is placed a clean cloth — the washerman's mattu. 
It is folded, and within the folds are three nazhis of rice. 
On the top of it a cocoanut is placed. In the four cor- 
ners a piece of charcoal, a little salt, a few chillies, and a 
gold fanam are tied. The eldest son, who is always the 

tiyah sa 

protagonist in all the ceremonies after death, lifts the 
cloth with all its contents, places it on his head, and 
touches with it his forehead, ears, each side and loins, 
knees and toes. He does this three times. The plan- 
tain leaves are then removed from the figure. A little 
turmeric powder is taken from the outline, and rubbed 
on the forehead of the eldest son. He then bows thrice 
to the figure, crossing his legs and arms so that the right 
hand holds the left ear, and the left the right ear, and 
touches the ground with the elbow-joints. It is no joke 
to do this. All this time, the eldest son wears round 
his forehead the strip torn from the cloth which covered 
the corpse. There is nothing more to be done in the 
middle room for the present, and the eldest son goes out 
into the yard, and cooks the rice for the final feed to the 
crows. Three nazhis of this rice must be pounded and 
prepared for cooking by the woman who watched the 
lamp on the fourth night after death. Having cooked 
the rice, the eldest son brings it into the middle room, 
and mixes it with some unrefined sugar, plantains and 
pappadams, making two balls, one large and one small. 
Each of these he places on a plantain leaf. Then some 
puja is done to them, and offerings of rice are made over 
a gold fanam. The balls are given to the crows in the 
yard, or, in some cases, taken to the sea or a river, and 
cast into the water. When this course is adopted, various 
articles must be kept ready ere the return of the party. 
These comprise a new pot containing water, a branch 
of areca blossoms, mango leaves, a kindi containing a 
gold fanam or gold ring, a little salt and rice, each tied 
up in a piece of cloth, and a few chillies. The mouth 
of the pot is covered with a plantain leaf, and secured. 
There are also two stools, made of pala and mango 
wood. The eldest son sits on one of these, and places 

89 tlYAN 

his feet on the other, so that he does not touch the 
ground. The water in the pot is sprinkled with mango 
leaves by the barber to the north, south, east and 
west, and on the head of the son. The remainder of the 
water is then poured over his head. The barber then 
sprinkles him with cocoanut water, this time using 
areca blossoms, and makes him sip a little thereof. The 
barber makes a hole in the plantain leaf, and picks out 
the contents. The eldest son bathes, and after the bath 
there is a presentation of gifts. The barber, sitting in 
the verandah beside the son, first gives to each person 
under pollution a little salt and raw rice, which they 
eat. He then gives them a little betel leaf and a small 
piece of areca nut, and receives in return a quarter of an 
anna. The eldest son chews the betel which he has 
received, and spits into a spittoon held by the barber, 
whose property it becomes. Then to the barber, who 
has been presented with a new mat to sit on and new 
cloth to wear before he seats himself in the verandah, are 
given an ear-ring such as is worn by Tiyan women, a 
silk cloth, a white cotton cloth, and a few annas. If the 
deceased has been cremated he is given six fanams, 
and, if buried, five fanams as the fee for his priestly 
offices. On an occasion of this kind, several barbers, 
male and female, turn up in the hope of receiving 
presents. All who help during the various stages of 
the ceremonial are treated in much the same way, 
but the senior barber alone receives the officiating fee. 
It is odd that the barbers of the four surrounding 
villages are entitled to receive gifts of new cloths and 
money. Those under death pollution are forbidden 
to eat fish or flesh, chew betel, or partake of jaggery. 
The restriction is removed on the pula-kuli day. The 
last act for their removal is as follows. The barber is 


required to eat some jaggery, and drink some conjee. 
After this, the eldest son, the Tandan, and a neighbour, 
sit on a mat spread in the middle of the house, and 
formally partake of conjee and jaggery. The pula- 
kuli is then over. 

It is a sacred duty to a deceased person who was 
one of importance, for example the head of a family, 
to have a silver image of him made, and arrange for 
it being deposited in some temple, where it will receive 
its share of puja (worship), and offerings of food and 
water. The new-moon day of the months Karkitakam 
(July- August), Tulam (October-November), and Kum- 
bham (February-March) is generally selected for doing 
this. The temples at Tirunelli in Wynad and Tiruna- 
vayi, which are among the oldest in Malabar, were 
generally the resting-places of these images, but now 
some of the well-to-do deposit them much further afield, 
even at Benares and Ramesvaram. A silver image is 
presented to the local Siva temple, where, for a consi- 
deration, puja is done every new-moon day. On each 
of these days, mantrams are supposed to be repeated 
a thousand times. When the image has been the object 
of these mantrams sixteen thousand times, it is supposed 
to have become eligible for final deposit in a temple. 
It is this image which rests in the temple at Tirunavayi, 
or elsewhere. 

An annual sradh ceremony is performed for the sake 
of the spirit of the deceased, at which crows are fed in 
the manner already described, and relations are fed. 
On the night of this day, some sweetmeats or cakes, 
such as the deceased was fond of during life, are offered 
to the spirit. A lamp is placed on a stool, and lighted 
in the middle room of the house, with a kindi of water 
and a young cocoanut near it. The cakes or sweetmeats 


are placed in front of the stool. Children sprinkle rice 
over it, and the door is shut for a quarter of an hour. 
The individual who feeds the crows should partake of 
only one meal, without fish or flesh, on the previous day. 
Another ceremony, which is necessary for the repose 
of the dead, is called badha-velichatu-variethal, or 
bringing out the spirit. It cannot be performed until 
at least a year after death, for during that period the 
spirit is in a sort of purgatory. After that, it may be 
invoked, and it will answer questions. The ceremony 
resembles the nelikala pregnancy ceremony. The per- 
formers are Panans or washermen. Some little girls 
are seated in front of a booth in the yard. The celebrant 
of the rite sings, invoking the spirit of the deceased. 
Late at night, one of the girls becomes possessed by 
the spirit, and, it is said, talks and acts just like the 
deceased, calling the children, relations and friends by 
name, talking of the past, and giving commands for the 
future conduct of the living members of the family. 
After this, the spirit is severed from earthly trammels, 
and attains heavenly bliss. 

The wood used for the purpose of cremation is that 
of a mango tree, which must be cut down after the death. 
A little sandalwood and cuscus (grass) roots are some- 
times added to the pyre. In these days, when the 
important and interesting features of ceremonial are 
fast disappearing, it is not surprising that dried cakes of 
cow-dung are superseding the mango wood. 

Among other ceremonies, there is one called kutti 
puja, which is performed when a newly built house is 
taken charge of. Vastu Purusha is the name of the 
supreme being which, lying on its back with its head to 
the north-east and legs to the south-west, supports the 
earth. Or rather the earth is but a small portion of this 


vast body. Forests are its tiny hairs, oceans its blood- 
vessels, and the wind its breath. In this body are 
fifty-three deities, who are liable to disturbance when 
the surface of the earth is dug, when trees are felled, 
foundations laid, and a house built. These angry beings 
must be propitiated, or there will be untimely deaths, 
poverty, and sickness among the inmates. The ceremony 
is performed in the following manner. A square with 
fifty-three columns is made with rice flour in the middle 
room of the house, and each column is filled with yellow, 
red, and black powder. A plantain leaf is placed over 
it, and a few measures of paddy are set on the top of the 
leaf. On this is placed another leaf, with various kinds 
of grain, plantains, cocoanuts, and jaggery on it. The 
carpenter, who is the architect and builder of the house, 
then performs puja with flowers, incense and lights, and 
the troublesome imp-spirit Gulikan is propitiated with 
toddy and arrack, and a fowl which is decapitated for 
him. Then all the workmen — carpenters, masons, and 
coolies — walk thrice round the house, breaking cocoa- 
nuts on the walls and doors, and howling in order to 
drive away all evil spirits which may by chance be 
lurking about the place. After this, they are all fed until 
they cry out " We are satisfied, and want no more." 
They are given cloths and other presents, and the chief 
feature of the ceremony takes place. This is the formal 
handing over of the house by the carpenter. He hands 
it over to a third person, and never directly to the owner. 
It is not always easy to find a third person who is 
willing to undertake the responsibility, and who is at the 
same time suitable for the Gulikan who is dispossessed 
of the house, and pursues him henceforth, following him 
who first receives charge of the house. He should be a 
man who brings luck, cheerful and contented, having a 


family, and not labouring under any disorder or sickness 
of body. There is, or was a few years ago, an old Nayar 
living not far from Calicut, who was much sought after 
to fulfil the functions of third person on these occasions, 
and all the houses he received prospered. The third 
person is generally a poor man, who is bribed with 
presents of cloths, money and rice, to undertake the job. 
He wears one of the new cloths during the ceremony. 
When the carpenter's ceremonies have been completed, 
this man is taken to the middle room of the house, and 
made to stand facing the door, with each foot on a plan- 
tain leaf Pieces of the thatch are tied to the four corners 
of his cloth. He shuts the door, opens it, and shuts 
it again. The carpenter calls from without, asking him 
whether he has taken charge of the house. He replies 
evasively " Have the carpenters and workmen received 
all their wages ? If they have, I take charge of the 
house." The carpenter does not answer the question, 
for, if he did so, the mischief would be transferred to 
him through the house-owner. So he says " I did not 
ask you about my wages. Have you taken charge of 
the house ?" The man inside answers as before, adding 
" otherwise not." The carpenter again says " I did not 
ask you about my wages. Answer me straight. Have 
you, or have you not taken charge of the house ?" The 
man inside replies " I have taken charge of the house," 
and opens the door. Taking in his hands the plantain 
leaves on which he stood, he runs away as fast as he 
can without looking back. This he must not do on any 
account. The people pelt him with plantains, and hoot 
at him as he runs, and water mingled with cow-dung is 
sprinkled in his path. After all this, cow's milk is boiled 
with a little rice in the house, of which every one par- 
takes, and the owner assumes charge of his house. 


In the pre- British days, a few of the well-to-do 
families of Tiyans lived in houses of the kind called 
nalapura (four houses), having an open quadrangle in 
the centre. But, for the most part, the Tiyans — slaves 
of the Nayars and Nambutiris — lived in a one-roomed 
thatched hut. Nowadays, the kala pura usually consists 
of two rooms, east and west. 

Toddy-drawing, and every thing connected with the 
manufacture and sale of arrack (country liquor) and 
unrefined sugar, form the orthodox occupation of the 
Tiyan. But members of the community are to be found 
in all classes of society, and in practically all professions 
and walks of life. It is interesting lo find that the head 
of a Tiyan family in North Malabar bears the title 
Cherayi Panikar, conferred on the family in the old days 
by a former Zamorin. A title of this kind was given 
only to one specially proficient in arms. Even in those 
days there were Tiyan physicians, bone-setters, astrolo- 
gers, diviners, and sorcerers. 

It is easy to identify the toddy-tapper by the indu- 
rated skin of the palms, fingers, inner side of the forearms, 
and the instep. The business of toddy -tapping involves 
expert climbing, while carrying a considerable parapher- 
nalia, with no adventitious aid other than can be got out 
of a soft grummet of coir to keep the feet near together, 
while the hands, with the arms extended, grasp the palm 
tree. The profession is rarely adopted before the age 
of eighteen, but I have seen a man who said he began 
when he was twelve years old. It is very hard work. 
A tapper can work about fifteen trees, each of which 
he has to climb three times a day. In the northern 
districts of the Madras Presidency, among the Telugu 
population, the toddy-drawers use a ladder about eight 
or nine feet in length, which is placed against the tree, 


to avoid climbing a third or a fourth of it. While in the 
act of climbing up or down, they make use of a wide band, 
which is passed round the body at the small of the back, 
and round the tree. This band is easily fastened with 
a toggle and eye. The back is protected by a piece of 
thick soft leather. It gives great assistance in climbing, 
which it makes easy. All over the southernmost portion 
of the peninsula, among the Shanans and Tiyans, the 
ladder and waist-band are unknown. They climb up and 
down with their hands and arms, using only the grummet 
on the feet. The Tiyan toddy-tapper's equipment consists 
of a short-handled hatchet, about seven inches square, of 
thin iron, sheathed in a wooden case, and fastened to a 
waist-belt composed of several strings of coir yarn, to 
which is hung a small pot of gummy substance obtained 
by bruising the leaves of the aichil plant. A vessel 
holding a couple of gallons, made out of the spathe of 
the areca palm, is used for bringing down the toddy. 
Tucked into the waist-belt is a bone loaded with lead at 
either end, which is used for tapping the palm to bring 
out the juice. A man once refused to sell at any price 
one of these bones — the femur of a sambar {Cervus 
unicolor), which had such virtue that, according to its 
owner, it would fetch palm juice out of any tree. The 
garb of the tapper at work consists of a short cloth round 
the loins, and (always during the rains, and often at 
other times) a head-covering somewhat pointed in shape, 
made of the leaves of the cocoanut palm placed together 
as in a clinker-built boat, or of a rounded shape, made 
out of the spathe of the areca palm. The toddy-tapper 
should go through the show of reverence by touching 
the cocoanut tree with the right hand, and then apply- 
ing his hand to the forehead, every time he prepares to 
climb a tree. 


In connection with toddy-drawing, the following note 
occurs in the Gazetteer of Malabar. " The tapper and 
the toddy shopkeeper are generally partners, the former 
renting the trees, paying the tree-tax, and selling 
the toddy at fixed prices to the latter. Sometimes the 
shopkeeper pays both rent and tax, and the tapper is 
his servant paid by the bottle. The trees are rented 
half yearly, and the rent varies between Re. i and 
Re. 1-8-0 per tree. They are fit for tapping as soon as 
they come into bearing, but four years later and in the 
succeeding decade are most productive. They are seldom 
tapped for more than six months in the year, and the 
process, though it shortens the life of the tree, improves 
the yield of nuts in the rest of the year. The tapper's 
outfit is neither costly nor elaborate. A knife in a 
wooden case, a bone weighted with lead (the leg bone of 
a sambhur for choice), a few pots, and two small rings of 
rope with which to climb complete the tale. Operations 
begin when the spathe is still enclosed by its sheath. 
Once a day the spathe is gently bruised on either side 
with the bone, and on the third and following days a 
thin slice is cut off the end twice a day. On the fifteenth 
day drawing begins, and the bruising ceases. Sheath 
and spathe are swathed for the greater part of their 
length in a thick covering of leaves or fibre ; the ends 
are still cut off twice or three times a day, but, after 
each operation, are smeared with a paste made of leaves 
and water with the object, it is said, of keeping the sap 
from oozing through the wound and rotting the spathe. 
The leaves used for this purpose are those of the dechal 
or vetti tree, which are said to be one and the same 
(Aporosa Lindleyana) ; but in British Cochin, where 
the tree does not grow, backwater mud is utilised. 
Round the space between the end of the sheath and the 


thick covering of leaves a single leaf is bound, and through 
this the sap bleeds into a pot fastened below. The pot 
is emptied once a day in the morning. The yield of sap 
varies with the quality of the tree and the season of the 
year. In the hot months the trees give on an average 
about a bottle a day, in the monsoon and succeeding 
months as much as three bottles. In the gardens along 
the backwaters, south of Chettuvayi, Messrs. Parry & Co. 
consider that in a good year they should get a daily 
average of three bottles or half a gallon of toddy per 
tree. A bottle of toddy sells for three or four pies." 

In connection with the coir industry, it is noted, in 
the Gazetteer of Malabar, that " the husks of the 
cocoanuts are buried in pits as near as possible to the 
waterline of rivers, backwaters and creeks, and are left 
to soak for six months, a year, or even eighteen months 
— the longer the better. The colour of the yarn, and 
thereby the quality, depends very much on the water in 
which the husks are steeped. It should be running 
water, and, if possible, fresh water. If the water be salt, 
the yarn may at first be almost white, but in a damp 
climate it soon becomes discoloured and blotchy. As 
soon as the husks are taken out of the pits, the fibre is 
beaten out with short sticks by 1 iyattis (Tiyan females) 
and women of the Vettuvan . caste. It is dried in the 
sun for twelve hours, and is then ready for sale to native 
merchants at Calicut and Cochin, who in their turn deal 
with the European firms. The fibre is twisted into yarn 
by Tiyattis and other women, and in that form the 
greater part of the coir made in Malabar is exported from 
Cochin to all parts of the world, but chiefly to the 
United Kingdom and Germany." 

It has been said that " in North Malabar the prepa- 
ration of coir is a regular cottage industry of the most 


typical kind. Throughout the year, wherever one goes, 
one hears the noise of the women hammering out the 
fibre, and sees them taking, in the evening, that part 
of it which they have rolled into yarn to the nearest 
little wayside shop, to be exchanged for salt, chillies, 
paddy, etc. But, in the north of the district, nothing 
of the kind goes on, and the coir is commonly used 
as fuel." 

It has been already stated that marumakkatayam, or 
inheritance through nephews, is the invariable rule in 
North Malabar, being followed even by the Muham- 
madan Mappillas. In South Malabar, where the Tiyans 
do not observe marumakkatayam, the property devolves 
through the sons. All sons share alike. Daughters 
have no share. The practice of polyandry, which still 
exists in Malabar among the Tiyans (and other classes), 
and which was probably once general, tends to prevent 
dispersion of the family property. Although theoreti- 
cally all sons share the property of their father, it is the 
eldest son who succeeds to possession and management 
of the tarwad property. The others are entitled to 
maintenance only, so long as they remain in the same 
tarwad house. It is the same among the Izhuvans. 

Beef, as in the case of all Hindus, is forbidden as an 
article of diet. The staple food is rice with fish curry. 
The common beverage is conjee, but this is being sup- 
planted by tea, coffee, lemonade, and soda-water. 

A loin-cloth, which should not reach to the knees, 
with a Madras handkerchief on the shoulders, is the 
orthodox dress of the males, and a double loin-cloth that 
of females. Women were not allowed to wear anything 
above the waist, except when under death pollution. 
Any colour might be worn, but white and blue are most 
common. A ring, composed of hollow gold beads, called 


mani-kathila, is the proper ornament for a Tiyan woman's 
ear. Twenty or thirty, with a pendant in the middle, 
might be worn. Gold or silver bracelets could be worn. 
Hollow silver bracelets were worn by girls until the birth 
of their first child. But times have changed, and nowadays 
Tiyan women wear the ornaments which, strictly speak- 
ing, appertain to Nayar and Brahman women. Their 
mode of tying the hair, and even their dress, which 
is inclined to follow the fashion of the Christians, has 
changed. In olden days, a Tiyan woman could wear 
an ornament appropriate for a Nayar on a special occa- 
sion, but only with the permission of the Nayar landlord, 
obtained through the Tandan, on payment of a fee. 

In North Malabar a good round oath is upon Perumal 
Iswaran, the God of the shrine at Kotiyur. In South 
Malabar it is common to swear by Kodungallur 
Bhagavati, or by Guruvayur Appan, local deities. 

The Tandan is the principal person in the tara, to 
decide all caste disputes. In South Malabar, he is, as a 
rule, appointed by the senior Rani of the Zamorin. A 
fee of anything up to loi fanams (Rs. 25-4-0) must be 
paid to this lady, when she appoints a Tandan. When 
there is a problem of any special difficulty, it is referred 
to her for decision. In territories other than those 
within the power of the Zamorin, the local Raja appoints 
the Tandan, and gives the final decision in special cases. 
As we have seen, the Tiyan is always to some extent 
subordinate to a Nayar overlord, but he is not bound 
to any particular one. He can go where he likes, 
and reside anywhere, and is not bound to any parti- 
cular chief, as is the Nayar. It is noted by General 
E. F. Burton, *" in connection with bygone days, that 

* An Indian Olio. 
VII-7 B 


"such was the insolent pride of caste that the next 
(and very respectable) class of Hindus, the Teers, were 
not allowed to come near the Nairs, under penalty of 
being cut down by the sword, always naked and ready." 

In connection with the religion of the Tiyans, I may 
commence with an old tradition, which is no doubt from 
a Brahmanic source. Once upon a time there were seven 
heavenly damsels, who used to bathe every day before 
dawn in a lake situated in a forest. Siva found this out, 
and appeared as a fire on the bank, at which the girls 
warmed themselves. Having thus lured them, the God 
made all of them mothers. Seven beautiful boys were 
born, and Siva presented them to Parvati, who treated 
them as if they were her own sons. They were taken to 
mount Kailasa, and employed in preparing toddy for 
the mysterious and wonderful Sakti worship. Daily they 
brought the toddy at the moment when it was required 
for the golden pot. Parvati embraced the boys all at 
once, and they became one. On a certain day, this 
boy sent the sacred toddy in charge of a Brahman, who 
became curious to know the virtues of the mysterious 
liquid. As he rested on a river bank thinking about 
it, he drank a little, and filled the vessel up with water. 
Then he reached Kailasa too late for the daily worship. 
Siva was angry, and ordered the Saunika boy (Parvati's 
name for him) to be brought before him. But the boy 
had been told what had happened, and cut off the head 
of the Brahman, who had confessed to him. Seeing the 
boy coming along carrying a Brahman's head, Siva was 
astonished, and commanded him to approach nearer. 
The boy explained that it was not a heinous crime to cut 
off the head of one who had prevented the Sakti worship. 
Siva said that the killing of a Brahman was the worst of 
crimes, and put the perpetrator out of caste. He would 

lol TlYAN 

not listen to the boy, who replied that whoever prevented 
Sakti worship was a Chandala, and condemned him. 
The boy asked for death at Siva's hands. The request 
pleased the God, who forgave him. The boy had to 
remain out of caste, but was initiated into the mysteries 
of Sakti worship as the surest means of salvation, and to 
him was given the exclusive privilege of performing Sakti 
worship with liquor. He was commanded to follow, and 
imitate the Brahmans in everything, except in the matter 
of repeating the sacred mantrams. By tantrams (signs 
with the hands) he eventually obtained the merit of 
making puja with mantrams. He was the first Tiyan. 

It is pretty safe to say that all the ideas of the 
Tiyans connected with pure Hinduism — the Hinduism 
of the Vedas — and of tradition, of which we see very 
little in Southern India, and which in Malabar is more 
perverted in confused ideas than perhaps elsewhere, 
those relating to re-birth, karma, pilgrimages to Benares 
and distant temples are borrowed from the Brahmans, 
In the ceremonies which have been described, notably in 
those connected with marriage and death, we have seen 
the expression of many Hindu ideas. Not so is all that 
relates to offerings to the dead. That is the common 
property of all the children of men. 

A main feature in the religion of the Tiyan is that it 
is largely connected with Sakti worship. Some Brah- 
mans indulge therein, but they are unable, like the Tiyans, 
to use arrack in connection with it, and are obliged to 
use, instead of this requisite, milk or honey. Siva, not 
exactly a Vedic entity, and Sakti, are supposed to be 
the two primordial and eternal principles in nature. 
Sakti is, perhaps, more properly the vital energy, and 
Sakti worship the worship of the life principle in nature. 
We are not considering the abstract meaning of the term 

TIYAN 1 02 

Sakti ; nor are we now thinking of the Siva of Monier 
Williams or Max Miiller. We are in Malabar, where 
the Hinduism of the Vedas is in almost hopeless confu- 
sion, and mingled with animism and nearly every other 
kind of primitive religious idea. It is not therefore at 
all an easy task to represent in words anything like a 
rational conception of what the religion of the Tiyan 
really is. The poor and ignorant follow, in a blind 
ignorant way, Hinduism as they know it and feel it. 
Their Hinduism is very largely imbued with the lower 
cult, which, with a tinge of Hinduism, varied in extent 
here and there, is really the religion of the people 
at large all over Southern India. The Tiyans have 
a large share of it. To the actions of evil and 
other spirits are attributable most, if not all of the ills 
and joys of life. The higher Hinduism is far above 
them. Nevertheless, we find among them the worship 
of the obscure and mysterious Sakti, which, un- 
fortunately, is practiced in secret. Nobody seems 
to be in the least proud of having anything to do with 
it. In fact, they are rather ashamed to say anything 
about it. Those who, so to speak, go in for it are 
obliged to undergo preliminary purificatory ceremonies, 
before the great mystery can be communicated to them. 
The mantram, which is whispered by the guru (religious 
preceptor) in the ear of the devotee is said to be 
" Brahma aham, Vishnu aham, Bhairavu aham " (I am 
Brahma, I am Vishnu, I am Bhairavan). It is believed 
that each individual is a spark of the divinity. Having 
in him the potentiality of the Supreme Being, he can 
develop, and attain godhood. There is no distinction 
of caste in Sakti worship. The devotees may belong to 
the highest or to the lowest castes, though I doubt very 
much whether the Nambutiri Brahmans indulge in it. 


The novices, of whatever caste, eat and drink together 
during the period of puja. Men and women participate 
in the secret rites. A solemn oath is taken that the 
mystery of Sakti will not be revealed, except with the 
permission of the guru, or on the death-bed. The spirit 
of the goddess (for Sakti is thought of as the female 
principle) must be withdrawn from the body of the Sakti 
worshipper when he is at the point of death. A lamp is 
lighted beside him. A few leaves of the tulsi plant 
{Ocimum sancium), a little rice, and a lighted wick are 
given to the dying man. Holding these things, he 
makes three passes over his body from head to foot, and, 
as it were, transfers the spirit to the next man, at the 
same time communicating his wishes about continuing 
the worship, and so on. When a man dies before this 
separation or transfer has been accomplished, a Brahman 
must be called in, who, with a silver image representing 
the deceased, makes symbolic transference of the Sakti 
spirit. It must be done somehow, or the soul of the 
deceased cannot attain salvation. It is said that, like 
many other things in this land, Sakti worship has under- 
gone degeneration, that such lofty ideas and feelings as 
may have once pervaded it have more or less disappeared, 
and that the residue is not very edifying. Be this as it 
may, in every tara there is a Bhagavati temple for Tiyans, 
where Tiyans officiate as priests. The Komaram (oracle) 
of the Bhagavati temple is clothed in red, and embellished 
with red sandal paste mixed with turmeric. Bhagavati 
is always associated with various jungle spirits or gods, 
whose Komarams always wear black. There is no daily 
worship in Tiyan temples, with the exception of a few 
in the neighbourhood of Cannanore. But there is an 
annual celebration of puja during the mannalam (forty 
day) period, commencing on the first of the month 

TIYAN 104 

Vrischikam (15th November). Lamps are lighted, and 
worship is begun on this day, and continued for forty 
days. At its conclusion, the jungle gods retire to the 
jungle until the next year. A death in the family of a 
Komaram involves, I believe, some postponement of the 
rites. The period is supposed to be first part of the 
functional activity of the earth, which ends somewhere 
about the 21st of June. It is during this period that 
Sakti worship is carried on. 

The temple of Subramania at Palni in the Madura 
district is a favourite objective for Tiyan pilgrims. The 
subject of pilgrimages to this temple has been touched 
on in my note on the Nayars [see Nayar). The Bhaga- 
vati temple at Kodungallur in Cochin territory on the 
coast is another favourite place of pilgrimage among 
the Tiyans. All classes of people, with the exception 
of Brahmans, undertake this pilgrimage. Everyone 
under a vow, proceeding to the festival, which takes 
place in February or March, carries with him a cock, 
which is beheaded at the shrine. Under the Perumals, 
pilgrimage to Kodungallur was somewhat compulsory. 
This temple was a fruitful source of revenue to the State, 
for not only the Tiyans, but the fisherman and artisan 
castes had their own temple in every tara in the land, 
and the Muppan — the Komaram — of each temple was 
under an obligation to contribute yearly gifts to the 
temple at Kodungallur. Rent for the temple lands was 
set at a nominal figure — a mere pepper-corn rent as 
acknowledgment of sovereign right. Rent might not 
be paid in times of trouble, but the gifts eked out of 
superstition were unfailing. It is not surprising, there- 
fore, that learning and advancement among the inferior 
castes did not receive much encouragement from the 
rulers of those days. 


The temple of Kotiyur in North Malabar is also a 
shrine to which Tiyans make pilgrimage. Indeed, it 
may be said that they follow Hinduism generally in 
rather a low form, and that Sakti worship is perhaps 
more peculiarly theirs than others', owing to their being 
able to use arrack, a product of the palm, and therefore 
of their own particular metier. The highest merit in 
Sakti can be reached only through arrack. The Sakti 
goddess, Bhagavati, the Tiyans look upon as their own 
guardian spirit. 

As instancing the mixture and confusion of religious 
ideas in Malabar, it may be mentioned that Mappillas 
have been known to indulge in Sakti worship, and 
Tiyans to have made vows, and given offerings at 
Mappilla mosques and Christian churches. Vows to the 
well-known mosque at Mambram are made by people of 
almost every caste. It is not uncommon to present the 
first fruit of a jak tree, or the milk of a cow when it brings 
forth its first calf, to the local Tangal or Mappilla priest. 

In many, perhaps in most Tiyan houses, offerings 
are made annually to a bygone personage named 
Kunnath Nayar, and to his friend and disciple Kunhi 
Rayan, a Mappilla. It is probable that they excelled in 
witchcraft and magic, but, according to the story, the 
Nayar worshipped the kite until he obtained command 
and control over all the snakes in the land. The 
offerings are made in order to prevent accidents from 
snakes. The snake god will also give children to the 
family, and promote domestic prosperity. Men without 
offspring worship him. Leprosy and the death of a 
child are believed to be the consequence of killing a 
snake. There are Mappilla devotees of Kunnath Nayar 
and Kunhi Rayan, who exhibit snakes in a box, and 
collect alms. There is a snake mosque near Manarghat, 

TIYAN 1 06 

at the foot of theNilgiri hills, which has its annual festival. 
The alms are collected ostensibly for this mosque. 

An interesting story, which is the legendary account 
of the exodus of the artisans from Malabar, and their 
return with the Tiyans, is narrated by the Panans. 
There were, in olden times, five recognised classes, 
which includes the Asaris (carpenters), Musaris (workers 
in bell-metal), Thattans (goldsmiths), and Perin-Kollans 
(blacksmiths). The fifth class is unknown. When an 
individual of the artisan classes dies, the Panan of 
the tara must bring a death gift to the house, which 
consists of cocoanuts and jak fruits or plantains. The 
Panan places the gift in the yard and repeats a long 
formula, which he has learnt by heart. It is very likely 
that he knows little or nothing of its meaning. But he 
reels it off, and at its conclusion the gifts are accepted. 
The same formula is also always repeated among the 
carpenters, goldsmiths, and blacksmiths during wedding 
and tali-tying ceremonies. It relates how the artisans 
deserted the land of Cheraman Perumal, and sought 
an asylum in the country of the Izhuvans with the 
island king, and how the Perumal sent the Panan to 
bring them back. Every one knows this old story, and 
believes it firmly. It must be learnt by heart, and the 
Panan gives it in the yard when a member of the artisan 
classes dies. Ihe story is to the following effect. 
During the four Yugams, Kreta, Treta, Dwapara, and 
Kali, many kings reigned over the earth. Parasu 
Raman destroyed the Kshatriya kings on twenty-one 
occasions, and was obliged to make atonement in 
expiatory ceremonies. He worshipped Varuna, the 
ocean god, and recovered from the sea a hundred and 
sixty kathams of land, consisting of Kolanad {?), Venad 
(Travancore), Kanya Kumari (Cape Comorin), Cheranad, 


and Malayalam up to Changala Vazhi beyond the Anai- 
malai hills. Cheraman Perumal was the ruler of this 
land, in which were the four castes. His capital was 
at Tiruvanja Kolam. One day, Veluthedan * Chiraman 
was washing the Perumal's cloths in a tank. He beat 
the cloths on a stone which was flat on the ground, 
and held one of the cloths in his hand. A girl of 
the carpenter caste, Ayyesvari by name, was just then 
going to the tank to bathe after her monthly period. She 
called out " Ho ! Kammal.t That is not the way to 
wash cloths. Put a small stone under one end of your 
washing stone, so as to make it slope a little. Then 
hold both ends of the cloth in your hand, and beat the 
middle of the cloth on the stone." The Veluthedan 
did so, and found that he washed better, and the cloths 
were whiter. The Perumal asked him " Were you not 
washing the cloths before ? Who washed them to-day ? " 
"To which the Veluthedan replied "Oh! Tamburan 
(chief or lord), a carpenter girl instructed your slave 
to-day how to wash cloths properly. May Perumal be 
pleased to order the girl to be given to your slave as his 
wife." Perumal then said " To whatever caste she may 
belong, you may take her by force, and will not lose 
your caste." Having received the king's permission, 
Veluthedan Chiraman concealed himself near the carpen- 
ter's house, and, when the girl opened the door to sweep 
the yard at dawn, he seized her, and carried her off to his 
house. Carpenter Sankaran of Tiruvanja Kalam went to 
the Perumal, and complained that Veluthedan Kammal 
had carried away his daughter, and disgraced him. He 
asked the Perumal whether he would give him an armed 
guard to rescue her. To which the Perumal replied " I 

* The washerman of the Nambutiris and Nayars is called Veluthedan. 
t Nayars are addressed as Kammal by Tiyans and artisans. 


will not help either party with armed men. You must 
fight it out among yourselves." Then the five classes of 
artisans consulted one another, and made common cause. 
The Panans, Perin Malayans, and Chen (red) Koravans 
joined the artisans. The Ven Thachans, Velans, 
Paravans, Vettuvans, Kanisan Panikars, and the Pandi 
Pulluvans of Vellalanad joined the other side. There 
was war for twelve years. In the end, the artisans were 
defeated. They said among themselves " We have been 
defeated by the fourteenth caste of Veluthedan Nayar, 
who carried away our daughter. Let us leave this 
country." So 7,764 families, with the women and 
children, tied up their mats, and left Cheraman Perumal's 
country, and went to Izhuva land, which was beyond 
it. They went before the Izhuva king (island king), 
and told him their story. Now Cheraman Perumal 
used to be shaved every fifteen days. When the barber 
(Velakathalavan) was sent for, he came without his knife 
(razor), as his wife had buried it. He said "Oh! 
Tamburan, have mercy on your slave. Your slave's 
knife was given to the blacksmith to be mended, and he 
took it away with him. He gave me this piece of iron, 
saying '* If you want the knife made ready for use, you 
must come to the Izhuva land for it, and we will mend it 
on our return." So Perumal had to go without shaving, 
and his hair grew like a Rishi's. As there were neither 
carpenters nor smiths to make implements, agriculture 
was almost at a standstill ; and, as there were no 
goldsmiths, the tali-tying ceremonies could not be 
performed. Nor could the rice-giving ceremony be done, 
for want of the " neck-rings." Then Cheraman Perumal 
obtained advice, and resolved to send the Mannan 
(washerman of the Tiyans), who was included in the 
fourteenth caste, and the Panan, who belonged to the 


eleventh caste. The Perumal gave to each of them a 
thousand fanams, and told them to go to the Izhuva 
country, and bring back the Kammalans (artisans). 
They wandered over various countries, stopping wherever 
they found a house. The Panan, being clever, was able 
to live by his wits, and spent no money of his own. The 
Mannan, on the contrary, spent all his money. They 
passed Ramapuri, and reached Trichivampuri. Then 
the Mannan asked the Panan for a loan, which was 
refused. On Friday at noon, the Mannan left the Panan, 
saying " The Panan is no companion for the Mannan." 
He returned to the Perumal and reported his failure, and 
the Panan's refusal to lend him money. The Panan 
went on, crossing rivers, canals, and ferries, and at last 
reached the Izhuva king's country. He entered the 
reception hall. At that moment, the king's goldsmith, 
who had just finished making a golden crown for him, 
had put it on his own head, to test its suitability for 
wearing. The Panan thought he was the king, and 
made obeisance to him. The Kammalans recognised 
him. He discovered his mistake too late, for he had 
addressed the goldsmith as Tamburan. So, to this day, 
the Panans, when addressing goldsmiths, say Tamburan. 
The Panan told the Kammalans of his mission, but they 
refused to return unless full reparation was made for the 
abduction of the carpenter girl, and certain social dis- 
abilities were removed. The 7,764 families of Kammalans 
asked the Izhuva king his advice, and he said that they 
should not go away. So the Kammalans sent the Panan 
back, and gave him the following presents, in order to 
demonstrate to the Perumal that they were in comfortable 
circumstances : — 

Gold valam-piri (a sort of string worn over the 
right shoulder) ; 


Silver edam-piri (a similar sort of string worn on 
the left shoulder) ; 

Gold netti-pattam (to be tied on the forehead) ; 

Gold bracelet ; 

Gold ornament for the hair. 
The Kammalans sent word to the Perumal that they 
would not return, unless they were given a girl in place 
of the carpenter's daughter, who had been abducted, and 
certain privileges were granted to them. At the same 
time, they promised the Panan that they would share 
their privileges with him, if he was successful. So the 
Panan returned, and appeared before the Perumal, who 
asked him where the Kammalans were. The Panan 
removed his gold cap, and put it under his arm, and 
replied that they were prosperous, and not anxious to 
return. Saying so, he placed before the Perumal the 
rich presents given by the Kammalans, and told the 
king that they would not return, unless they were given 
a girl and certain concessions. Ihe Perumal told the 
Panan to go back, and invite the Kammalans to return 
on their own terms. He said they would catch the first 
girl they met on the way to his palace, and all their 
demands were granted. The Panan arrived again in the 
Izhuva country, and told the Kammalans what the 
Perumal had said. They went to the Izhuva king, and 
obtained his permission to return to their own country. 
Then they caught an Izhuva boy, and confined him. 
The king asked them why they did so. They replied 
that they had lived for twelve years * as his subjects, 
and would never recognise any other king, so they 
wanted the Izhuva boy to represent him. The king 
consented. When they started, the boy began to cry. 

• The number twelve, so significant in Malabar. 

1 1 1 TIYAN 

A Nasrani,* by name Thomma (Thomas), was taken 
to accompany and protect the boy. The Kammalans 
travelled to their own country, and appeared before 
Cheraman Perumal. On the way, they found a girl of 
the Variar caste plucking flowers, and caught her by the 
hand. All the five classes claimed her. At last it was 
resolved to unite her with the Izhuva boy, their Tandan, 
who represented their king, and treat her as their sister. 
Cheraman Perumal confirmed his promise, and granted 
the following privileges to the Kammalans : — 

1. To make ceilings for their houses. 

2. To make upstairs houses to live in. 

3. To put up single staircases, consisting of one 
pole, in which notches are cut, or pegs are stuck alter- 
nately, for the feet. 

4. To have a gate -house. 

5. To perform the tali-tying ceremonies of their 
girls in a booth having four posts or supports ; to 
place within it, on a stool, a looking-glass with a handle, 
and the Ramayana ; and to place a silk cloth on the 
girl's head. 

6. To do arpu at the conclusion of the tali-tying 
ceremony (Vel ! Arpu ! is yelled out by the boys). 

7. To cook rice in copper vessels on occasions of 
marriage and other ceremonies, and to serve sugar and 
pappadams at their feasts. 

8. To hold the umbrella and taza (a sort of 
umbrella), which are carried in front of processions. 

9. To clap hands, and dance. 

10. To keep milch-cows for their own use. 
Permission was further granted for the Kammalans 
to wear the following ornaments. 

* Nasrani (Nazarene) is a terpi for Christians on the west coast. 


1. Netti-pattam, worn on the forehead during the 
tali-tying ceremony. 

2. Ananthovi, a ear ornament named after Anan- 
dan, the endless, the serpent on which Vishnu reposes. 
The serpent is sometimes represented with its tail in its 
mouth, forming a circle, an endless figure. Ananthovi 
is the central pendant of the ear-ring worn by Tiyan 
women among their kathila (ordinary gold ear-rings). It 
resembles a serpent in form. It is worn by men of the 
Tiyan and artisan castes on special occasions. 

3. Waist zone or girdle. 

4. Bracelets. 

5. Anklet with two knobs, formed of two pieces 
screwed together. 

6. Puli-mothiram, or tiger's claws mounted in gold, 
worn by children. 

7. Podippu, a knot of cotton-thread at the end of 
the string on which coins are hung as ornaments. 

8. Kalanchi, a gold knob above the podippu, which 
represents a flower. 

9. Necklace. 

10. Edakam and madkam-tali, neck ornaments, in 
one of which are set twenty-one stones. 

11. Cotton thread above the gold thread on the 

The Perumal conferred like privileges upon the 
family (Tiruvarankath) of the Panan who brought back 
the Kammalans. He wore all his ornaments, and made 
his obeisance to the Perumal. He had, however, taken 
off his gold cap. The Perumal said " What you have 
removed, let it be removed." So he lost the privilege 
of wearing a gold cap. The Perumal blessed the 
Kammalans, and they returned to their villages. They 
made a separate house for the Izhuva boy and the Variar 

113 TIYAN 

girl, and maintained them. The Izhuva boy, who was 
the first Tiyan to come to Malabar, brought with him 
the cocoanut, and retained the right to cultivate and use 
it. To this day, the people of the serf castes — Cheru- 
mans, Kanakans, and the like — use the word Varian 
when addressing Tiyans, in reference to their descent 
from the Variar girl. 

The orthodox number of classes of Kammalans is 
five. But the artisans do not admit the workers in 
leather as of their guild, and say there are only four 
classes. According to them, the fifth class was composed 
of the copper-smiths, who did not return to Malabar 
with the others, but remained in Izhuva land. Neverthe- 
less, they always speak of themselves as the Aiyen kudi 
or five-house Kammalans. 

There is a variant of the legend of the exodus, told 
by the Asaris (carpenters), which is worth narrating. 
Their version of the story is repeated among themselves, 
and not by the Panan, at every marriage and tali-tying 
ceremony. They identify the village of the Perumal's 
washerman as Kanipayyur. This is the name of a 
Nambutiri's illam in the Ponani taluk of Malabar. The 
Nambutiri is, it may be mentioned, considered to be 
the highest extant authority in architecture. Disputed 
points relating to this subject are referred to him, and 
his decision is final, and accepted by all carpenters and 
house-builders. The washerman's stone is said to have 
been lying flat in the water. The girl Ayyesvari was 
also of Kanipayyur, and was carried off as in the former 
story. But there was no request for an armed guard to 
rescue her. The Perumal was, instead, asked to make 
the washerman marry her, and thus avoid disgrace. He 
consented to do so, and all the 7,764 families of the five 
classes of Kammalans assembled for the wedding. An 

TIYAN 1 14 

immense booth, supported on granite pillars, was 
erected. The washerman and his party were fed sump- 
tuously. But the booth had been so constructed that 
it could be made to collapse instantaneously. So the 
Kammalans went quietly outside, and, at a given signal, 
the booth collapsed, and crushed to death the washerman 
and his friends. After this, the Kammalans fled, and 
remained one year, eight months and eleven days in the 
Izhuva country. Negotiations were carried on through 
the Izhuva king, and the Kammalans returned under his 
guarantee that their demands would be complied with. 
The Izhuva king sent his own men and the Nasrani to 
the capital of the Perumal. The story of the exodus and 
the return was inscribed on granite stone with solemn 
rites, and in the presence of witnesses. This was buried 
at the northern gate of the Tiruvanchakulam temple on 
Friday, the eighth of the month of Kanni. It was 
resolved that, in any case of doubt, the stone should be 
unearthed. And it was only after all this had been done 
that the Izhuva king's envoy returned to him. Then 
the Kammalans came back to Malabar. According 
to the carpenters, the copper-smiths did not return. 
They say that eighteen families of Asaris remained 
behind. Some of these returned long afterwards, but they 
were not allowed to rejoin the caste. They are known 
as Puzhi Tachan, or sand carpenters, and Patinettanmar, 
or the eighteen people. There are four families of 
this class now living at or near Parpangadi. They are 
carpenters, but the Asaris treat them as outcastes. 

There is yet another variant of the story of the 
exodus, which is obviously of recent manufacture, for a 
Pattar Brahman is brought in, and gives cunning advice. 
We know that the Pattars are comparatively new comers 
in Malabar. 

115 TIYAN 

The Tiyans have recently been summed up as 
follows.* " The Tiyas have always been characterised 
by their persevering and enterprising habits. A large 
percentage of them are engaged in various agricultural 
pursuits, and some of the most profitable industries 
of Malabar have from time out of mind been in their 
hands. They are exclusively engaged in making toddy 
and distilling arrack. Many of them are professional 
weavers, the Malabar mundu being a common kind of 
cloth made by them. The various industries connected 
with cocoanut cultivation are also successfully carried on 
by the Tiyas. For example, the manufacture of jaggery 
(crude sugar) is an industry in which a considerable 
number of the Tiyas are profitably engaged. The 
preparation of coir from cocoanut fibre is one of their 
hereditary occupations, and this is done almost wholly 
by their women at home. They are very skilful in the 
manufacture of coir matting and allied industries. Com- 
mercial pursuits are also common among them. Apart 
from their agricultural and industrial inclinations, the 
Tiyas give evidence of a literary taste, which is commen- 
dable in a people who are living under conditions which 
are anything but conducive to literary life. They have 
among them good Sanskrit scholars, whose contribu- 
tions have enriched the Malayalam literature ; physicians 
well versed in Hindu systems of medicine ; and well- 
known astrologers, who are also clever mathematicians. 
In British Malabar, they have made considerable pro- 
gress in education. In recent years, there has been 
gaining ground among the Tiyas a movement, which 
has for its object the social and material improvement 
of the community. Their leaders have very rightly 

• Indian Review, Oct. 1906. 
TII-8 B 


given a prominent place to industry in their schemes of 
progress and reform. Organisations for the purpose 
of educating the members of the community on the 
importance of increased industrial efforts have been 
formed. The success which has attended the Industrial 
Exhibition conducted by the members of the community 
at Quilon, in 1905, has induced them to make it a perma- 
nent annual event. Some of their young men have 
been sent to Japan to study certain industries, and, on 
their return, they hope to resuscitate the dying local 
industries, and to enter into fresh fields of industry 
awaiting development. Factories for the manufacture 
of coir matting and allied articles have been established 
by the Tiyas in some parts of Travancore and Cochin." 

In 1906, the foundation stone of a Tiya temple at 
Tellicherry was laid with great ceremony. In the fol- 
lowing year, a very successful Industrial Exhibition was 
held at Cannanore under the auspices of the Sri Narayan 
Dharma Paripalana Yogam. Still more recently, it was 
resolved to collect subscriptions for the establishment 
of a hostel for the use of Tiya youths who come from 
other places to Tellicherry for educational purposes. 

Tiyoro. — The Tiyoros are described, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as " Oriya fishermen, who also 
make lotus-leaf platters. They have four endogamous 
sections, viz., Torai, Ghodai, Artia, and Kulodondia." 
It has been suggested that the caste name is a corruption 
of the Sanskrit tivara, a hunter. (See Risley, Tribes and 
Castes of Bengal, Tiyar.) 

Toda.— Quite recently, my friend Dr. W. H. Rivers, 
as the result of a prolonged stay on the Nilgiris, has 
published * an exhaustive account of the sociology and 

• The Todas. 1906. 






li; tODA 

religion of this exceptionally interesting tribe, number- 
ing, according to the latest census returns, 807 
individuals, which inhabits the Nilgiri plateau. I shall, 
therefore, content myself with recording the rambling 
notes made by myself during occasional visits to Oota- 
camund and Paikara, supplemented by extracts from the 
book just referred to, and the writings of Harkness and 
other pioneers of the Nilgiris. 

The Todas maintain a large-horned race of semi- 
domesticated buffaloes, on whose milk and its products 
(butter and ney)"* they still depend largely, though to a 
less extent than in bygone days before the establishment 
of the Ootacamund bazar, for existence. It has been 
said that ** a Toda's worldly wealth is judged by the 
number of buffaloes he owns. Witness the story in 
connection with the recent visit to India of His Royal 
Highness the Prince of Wales. A clergyman, who 
has done mission work among the Todas, generally 
illustrates Bible tales through the medium of a magic- 
lantern. One chilly afternoon, the Todas declined to 
come out of their huts. Thinking they required 
humouring like children, the reverend gentleman threw 
on the screen a picture of the Prince of Wales, explaining 
the object of his tour, and, thinking to impress the 
Todas, added ' The Prince is exceedingly wealthy, and 
is bringing out a retinue of two hundred people.' ' Yes, 
yes,' said an old man, wagging his head sagely, * but how 
many buffaloes is he bringing ? " 

The Todas lead for the most part a simple pastoral 
life. But I have met with more than one man who had 
served, or who was still serving Government in the 
modest capacity of a forest guard, and I have heard of 

• Ney = ghi or clarified butter. 

TOD A Il8 

Others who had been employed, not with conspicuous 
success, on planters' estates. The Todas consider it 
beneath their dignity to cultivate land. A former 
Collector of the Nilgiris granted them some acres of 
land for the cultivation of potatoes, but they leased the 
land to the Badagas, and the privilege was cancelled. 
In connection with the Todas' objection to work, it is 
recorded that when, on one occasion, a mistake about 
the ownership of some buffaloes committed an old Toda 
to jail, it was found impossible to induce him to work 
with the convicts, and the authorities, unwilling to resort 
to hard remedies, were compelled to save appearances 
by making him an overseer. The daily life of a Toda 
woman has been summed up as lounging about the mad 
or mand (Toda settlement), buttering and curling her 
hair, and cooking. The women have been described 
as free from the ungracious and menial-like timidity of 
the generality of the sex in the plains. When Europeans 
(who are greeted as swami or god) come to a mand, 
the women crawl out of their huts, and chant a monoto- 
nous song, all the time clamouring for tips (inam). Even 
the children are so trained that they clamour for money 
till it is forthcoming. As a rule, the Todas have no 
objection to Europeans entering into their huts, but on 
more than one occasion I have been politely asked to 
take my boots off before crawling in on the stomach, so 
as not to desecrate the dwelling-place. Writing in 1868, 
Dr. J. Shortt makes a sweeping statement that " most 
of the women have been debauched by Europeans, who, 
it is sad to observe, have introduced diseases to which 
these innocent tribes were once strangers, and which are 
slowly but no less surely sapping their once hardy and 
vigorous constitutions. 1 he effects of intemperance and 
disease (syphilis) combined are becoming more and more 

1 19 ' TODA 

apparent in the shaken and decrepit appearance which 
at the present day these tribes possess." Fact it 
undoubtedly is, and proved both by hospital and naked- 
eye evidence, that syphilis has been introduced among 
the Todas by contact with the outside world, and they 
attribute the stunted growth of some members of the 
rising generation, as compared with the splendid 
physique of the lusty veterans, to the results thereof. It 
is an oft-repeated statement that the women show an 
absence of any sense of decency in exposing their naked 
persons in the presence of strangers. In connection 
with the question of the morality of the Toda women, 
Dr. Rivers writes that " the low sexual morality of the 
Todas is not limited in its scope to the relations within 
the Toda community. Conflicting views are held by 
those who know the Nilgiri hills as to the relations of the 
Todas with the other inhabitants, and especially with the 
train of natives which the European immigration to the 
hills has brought in its wake. The general opinion on 
the hills is that, in this respect, the morality of the Todas 
is as low as it well could be, but it is a question whether 
this opinion is not too much based on the behaviour of 
the inhabitants of one or two villages [e.g., the one 
commonly known as School or Sylk's mand] near the 
European settlements, and I think it is probable that the 
larger part of the Todas remain more uncontaminated 
than is generally supposed." 

I came across one Toda who, with several other 
members of the tribe, was selected on account of fine 
physique for exhibition at Barnum's show in Europe, 
America and Australia some years ago, and still retained 
a smattering of English, talking fondly of ' Shumbu ' (the 
elephant Jumbo). For some time after his return to 
his hill abode, a tall white hat was the admiration of his 

TOD A 120 

fellow tribesmen. To this man finger-prints came as no 
novelty, since his impressions were recorded both in 
England and America. 

Writing in 1870,* Colonel W. Ross King stated that 
the Todas had just so much knowledge of the speech 
of their vassals as is demanded by the most ordinary 
requirements. At the present day, a few write, and many 
converse fluently in Tamil. The Nilgiri C.M.S. Tamil 
mission has extended its sphere of work to the Todas, 
and I cannot resist the temptation to narrate a Toda 
version of the story of Dives and Lazarus. The English 
say that once upon a time a rich man and a poor man 
died. At the funeral of the rich man, there was a great 
tamasha (spectacle), and many buffaloes were sacrificed. 
But, for the funeral of the poor man, neither music nor 
buffaloes were provided. The English believe that in 
the next world the poor man was as well off as the rich 
man ; so that, when any one dies, it is of no use spend- 
ing money on the funeral ceremonies. Two mission 
schools have been established, one at Ootacamund, the 
other near Paikara. At the latter I have seen a number 
of children of both sexes reading elementary Tamil and 
English, and doing simple arithmetic. 

A few years ago a Toda boy was baptised at Tinne- 
velly, and remained there for instruction. It was hoped 
that he would return to the hills as an evangelist among 
his people. t In 1907, five young Toda women were 
baptised at the C.M.S. Mission chapel, Ootacamund. 
" They were clothed in white, with a white cloth over 
their heads, such as the Native Christians wear. A 
number of Christian Badagas had assembled to witness 
the ceremony, and join in the service." 

• Aboriginal Tribes of the Nilgiri Hills. 

t Madras Diocesan Magaiinc, November, 1907. 

._.. A 


1 2 i TODA 

The typical Toda man is above medium height, well 
proportioned and stalwart, with leptorhine nose, regular 
features, and perfect teeth. The nose is, as noted by 
Dr. Rivers, sometimes distinctly rounded in profile. An 
attempt has been made to connect the Todas with the 
lost tribes ; and, amid a crowd of them collected together 
at a funeral, there is no difficulty in picking out indivi- 
duals, whose features would find for them a ready place 
as actors on the Ober Ammergau stage, either in leading 
or subordinate parts. The principal characteristic, which 
at once distinguishes the Toda from the other tribes of 
the Nilgiris, is the development of the pilous (hairy) 
system. The following is a typical case, extracted from 
my notes. Beard luxuriant, hair of head parted in 
middle, and hanging in curls over forehead and back of 
neck. Hair thickly developed on chest and abdomen, 
with median strip of dense hairs on the latter. Hair 
thick over upper and lower ends of shoulder-blades, 
thinner over rest of back ; well developed on extensor 
surface of upper arms, and both surfaces of forearms ; 
very .thick on extensor surfaces of the latter. Hair 
abundant on both surfaces of legs ; thickest on outer side 
of thighs and round knee-cap. Dense beard-like mass 
of hair beneath gluteal region (buttocks). Superciliary 
brow ridges very prominent. Eyebrows united across 
middle line by thick tuft of hairs. A dense growth of 
long straight hairs directed outwards on helix of both ears, 
bearing a striking resemblance to the hairy development 
on the helix of the South Indian bonnet monkey {Macacus 
sinicus). The profuse hairy development is by some 
Todas attributed to their drinking "too much milk." 

Nearly all the men have one or more raised cicatrices, 
forming nodulous growths (keloids) on the right 
shoulder. These scars are produced by burning the skin 

TOD A 122 

with red-hot sticks of Litscsa Wightiana (the sacred fire- 
stick). The Todas believe that the branding enables 
them to milk the buffaloes with perfect ease, or as 
Dr. Rivers puts it, that it cures the pain caused by 
the fatigue of milking. " The marks," he says, " are 
made when a boy is about twelve years old, at which age 
he begins to milk the buffaloes." About the fifth month 
of a woman's first pregnancy, on the new-moon day, she 
goes through a ceremony, in which she brands herself, 
or is branded by another woman, by means of a rag 
rolled up, dipped in oil and lighted, with a dot on the 
carpo-metacarpal joint of each thumb and on each wrist. 
The women are lighter in colour than the men, and 
the colour of the body has been aptly described as of a 
cafd-au-lait tint. The skin of the female children and 
voung adults is often of a warm copper hue. Some of 
the young women, with their raven-black hair dressed in 
glossy ringlets, and bright glistening eyes, are distinctly 
good-looking, but both good looks and complexion are 
short-lived, and the women speedily degenerate into 
uncomely hags. As in Maori land, so in Toda land, 
one finds a race of superb men coupled to hideous 
women, and, with the exception of the young girls, the 
fair sex is the male sex. Both men and women cover 
their bodies with a white mantle with blue and red lines, 
called putkuli, which is purchased in the Ootacamund 
bazar, and is sometimes decorated with embroidery 
worked by the Toda women. The odour of the person 
of the Todas, caused by the rancid butter which they 
apply to the mantle as a preservative reagent, or with 
which they anoint their bodies, is quite characteristic. 
With a view to testing his sense of smell, long after 
our return from Paikara, I blindfolded a friend who had 
accompanied me thither, and presented before his nose 


123 TOD A 

a cloth, which he at once recognised as having something 
to do with the Todas. 

In former times, a Badaga could be at once picked 
out from the other tribes of the Nilgiri plateau by his 
wearing a turban. At the present day, some Toda 
elders and important members of the community {e.g., 
monegars or headmen) have adopted this form of head- 
gear. The men who were engaged as guides by Dr. 
Rivers and myself donned the turban in honour of their 

Toda females are tattooed after they have reached 
puberty. I have seen several multiparae, in whom the 
absence of tattoo marks was explained either on the 
ground that they were too poor to afford the expense 
of the operation, or that they were always suckling or 
pregnant — conditions, they said, in which the operation 
would not be free from danger. The dots and circles, 
of which the simple devices are made up,* are marked 
out with lamp-black made into a paste with water, and 
the pattern is pricked in by a Toda woman with the 
spines of Berberis aristata. The system of tattooing and 
decoration of females with ornaments is summed up in 
the following cases : — 

I. Aged 22. Has one child. Tattooed with three 
dots on back of left hand. Wears silver necklet orna- 
mented with Arcot two-anna pieces ; thread and silver 
armlets ornamented with cowry {Cyprcea monetd) shells 
on right upper arm ; thread armlet ornamented with 
cowries on left forearm ; brass ring on left ring finger ; 
silver rings on right middle and ring fingers. Lobes 
of ears pierced. Ear-rings removed owing to grand- 
mother's death. 

* See Madras Museum Bull., IV, 1896, pi. XII. 

TODA li4 

2. Aged 28. Tattooed with a single dot on chin ; 
rings and dots on chest, outer side of upper arms, back 
of left hand, below calves, above ankles, and across 
dorsum of feet. Wears thread armlet ornamented with 
young cowries on right forearm ; thread armlet and two 
heavy ornamental brass armlets on left upper arm ; 
ornamental brass bangle and glass bead bracelet on left 
wrist ; brass ring on left little finger ; two steel rings on 
left ring finger ; bead necklet ornamented with cowries. 

3. Aged 35. Tattooed like the preceding, with 
the addition of an elaborate device of rings and dots on 
the back. 

4. Aged 35. Linen bound round elbow joint, to 
prevent chafing of heavy brass armlets. Cicatrices of 
sores in front of elbow joint, produced by armlets. 

5. Aged 23. Has one child. Tattooed only below 
calves, and above ankles. 

The following are the more important physical 
measurements of the Toda men, whom I have ex- 
amined : — 









1 86 -8 


Cephalic length 




Do. breadth ... 




Do. index 

73 '3 

81 -3 


Nasal height 




Do. breadth 



3 '4 

Do. index 




Allowing that the cephalic index is a good criterion 
of racial or tribal purity, the following analysis of the 
Toda indices is very striking : — 

69 ♦♦ 

70 ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

71 ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

125 TOD A 

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ y 


72 ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 


75 ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

76 ♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

77 ♦ 

78 ♦ 

79 ♦ 

81 4 

A thing of exceeding joy to the Todas was my Saher's 
hand-dynamometer, the fame of which spread from mand 
to mand, and which was circulated among the crowd at 
funerals. Great was the disgust of the assembled males, 
on a certain day, when the record of hand-grip for the 
morning (y^ lbs.) was carried off by a big-boned female, 
who became the unlovely heroine of the moment. The 
largest English feminine hand-grip, recorded in my 
laboratory note-book, is only 66 lbs. One Toda man, of 
fine physique, not satisfied with his grip of 98 lbs., went 
into training, and fed himself up for a few days. Thus 
prepared, he returned to accomplish 103 lbs., the result 
of more skilful manipulation of the machine rather than 
of a liberal dietary of butter-milk. 

The routine Toda dietary is said to be made up of 
the following articles, to which must be added strong 
drinks purchased at the toddy shops : — 

(a) Rice boiled in whey. 

(d) Rice and jaggery (crude sugar) boiled in water. 

(c) Broth or curry made of vegetables purchased 
in the bazar, wild vegetables and pot-herbs, which, 
together with ground orchids, the Todas may often be 
seen rooting up with a sharp-pointed digging-stick on 

• Average 73. 

TODA 126 

the hill-sides. The Todas scornfully deny the use of 
aphrodisiacs, but both men and women admit that they 
take salep misri boiled in milk, to make them strong. 
Salep misri is made from the tubers (testicles de chiens) 
of various species of Eulophia and Habenaria belonging 
to the natural order Orchideae. 

The indigenous edible plants and pot-herbs include 
the following : — 

(i) Cnicus Wallichii (thistle). — The roots and 
flower-stalks are stripped of their bark, and made into 
soup or curry. 

(2) Girardinia hete7'ophylla (Nilgiri nettle). — The 
tender leafy shoots of vigorously growing plants are 
gathered, crushed by beating with a stick to destroy the 
stinging hairs, and made into soup or curry. The fibre 
of this plant, which is cultivated near the mands, is used 
for stitching the putkuli, with steel needles purchased in 
the bazar in lieu of the more primitive form. In the 
preparation of the fibre, the bark is thrown into a pot of 
boiling water, to which ashes have been added. After a 
few hours' boiling, the bark is taken out and the fibre 

(3) Tender shoots of bamboos eaten in the form 
of curry. 

(4) Alternant her a ses silts. ^ 
Stellaria media. ) 
Amarantus spinosus. X - er s. 
Amarantus polygonoides. ) 

The following list of plants, of which the fruits are 
eaten by the Todas, has been brought together by 
Mr. K. Rangachari : — 

Eugenia Arnottiana. — The dark purple juice of the 
fruit of this tree is used by Toda women for painting 
beauty spots on their faces. 

127 TODA 

Rubus ellipticus. •\ 

Rubus molucanus. )■ Wild raspberry. 

Rubus lasiocarpus. ^ 

Fragaria nilgerrensis, wild strawberry. 

El^agmis latifolia. Said by Dr. Mason to make 

excellent tarts and jellies. 
Gaultheria fragrantissima. 
Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, hill gooseberry. 

Loranthus neelgherrensis. \ 

r w 7 • J X Parasitic on trees. 

Loranthus lomceroiaes. ) 

Elesocarpus oblongus. 

ElcBOcarpus Munronii. 

Berberis aristata. \ 

Berberis nepalensis. ) ^' 

Solanum nigrum. 

Vaccinium Leschenaultii. 

Vaccinium nilgherrense. 

Toddalia aculeata. 

Ceropegia pusilla. 
To which may be added mushrooms. 
A list containing the botanical and Toda names of 
trees, shrubs, etc., used by the Todas in their ordinary 
life, or in their ceremonial, is given by Dr. Rivers.* 

Fire is, in these advanced days, obtained by the 
Todas in their dwelling huts for domestic purposes from 
matches. The men who came to be operated on with 
my measuring instruments had no hesitation in asking 
for a match, and lighting the cheroots which were 
distributed amongst them, before they left the Paikara 
bungalow dining-room. Within the precincts of the 
dairy temple the use of matches is forbidden, and fire 
is kindled with the aid of two dry sticks of Litscea 

• Ot. <U, Appendix IV, 738. 

TODA 128 

Wightiana. Of these one, terminating in a blunt 
convex extremity, is about 2' 3" long ; the other, with 
a hemispherical cavity scooped out close to one end, 
about 2^" in length. A little nick or slot is cut on 
the edge of the shorter stick, and connected with the 
hole in which the spindle stick is made to revolve. "In 
this slot the dust collects, and, remaining in an undisturbed 
heap, seemingly acts as a muffle to retain the friction- 
heat until it reaches a sufficiently high temperature, 
when the wood-powder becomes incandescent."* Into 
the cavity in the short stick the end of the longer stick 
fits, so as to allow of easy play. The smaller stick is 
placed on the ground, and held tight by firm pressure 
of the great toe, applied to the end furthest from the 
cavity, into which a little finely powdered charcoal 
is inserted. The larger stick is then twisted vigorously, 
" like a chocolate muller " (Tylor) between the palms of 
the hands by two men, turn and turn about, until the 
charcoal begins to glow. Fire, thus made, is said to be 
used at the sacred dairy (ti), the dairy houses of ordinary 
mands, and at the cremation of males. In an account 
of a Toda green funeral, t Mr. Walhouse notes that 
"when the pile was completed, fire was obtained by 
rubbing two dry sticks together. This was done mys- 
teriously and apart, for such a mode of obtaining fire is 
looked upon as something secret and sacred." At the 
funeral of a female, I provided a box of tandstickors for 
lighting the pyre. A fire-stick, which was in current 
use in a dairy, was polluted and rendered useless by 
the touch of my Brahman assistant ! It is recorded 
by HarknessJ that a Brahman was not only refused 

• R. Bache. Royal Magazine, August 1901. f Ind. Ant., Ill, 1874. 
X Description of a singular Aboriginal Race inhabiting the summit of the 
Neilgherry Hills, 1832. 




129 TODA 

admission to a Toda dairy, but actually driven away by 
some boys, who rushed out of it when they heard him 
approach. It is noted by Dr. Rivers that " several kinds 
of wood are used for the fire-sticks, the Toda names of 
these being kiaz or keadj {^Litscea IVigkHana), mors 
{Michelia Nilagirica), parskuti i^Eloeagnus latifolia), and 
main {Cinnamomtwt Wightii)." He states further that, 
'* whenever fire is made for a sacred purpose, the fire- 
sticks must be of the wood which the Todas call kiaz or 
keadj, except in the tesherot ceremony (qualifying cere- 
mony for the office of palol) in which the wood of muli 
is used. At the niroditi ceremony (ordination ceremony 
of a dairyman), " the assistant makes fire by friction, and 
lights a fire of mulli wood, at which the candidate warms 
himself." It is also recorded by Dr. Rivers that " in 
some Toda villages, a stone is kept, called tutm{ikal, 
which was used at one time for making fire by striking 
it with a piece of iron." 

The abode of the Todas is called a mad or mand 
(village or hamlet), which is composed of huts, dairy 
temple, and cattle-pen, and has been so well described 
by Dr. Shortt,"^ that I cannot do better than quote his 
account. " Each mand," he says, " usually comprises 
about five buildings or huts, three of which are used as 
dwellings, one as a dairy, and the other for sheltering 
the calves at night. These huts form a peculiar kind 
of oval pent-shaped [half- barrel- shaped] construction, 
usually lo feet high, i8 feet long, and 9 feet broad. The 
entrance or doorway measures 32 inches in height 
and 18 inches in width, and is not provided with any 
door or gate ; but the entrance is closed by means of a 
solid slab or plank of wood from 4 to 6 inches thick, 

• op. cit, 

TODA 130 

and of sufficient dimensions to entirely block up the 
entrance. This sliding door is inside the hut, and so 
arranged and fixed on two stout stakes buried in the 
earth, and standing to the height of 2J to 3 feet, as to 
be easily moved to and fro. There are no other 
openings or outlets of any kind, either for the escape of 
smoke, or for the free ingress and egress of atmospheric 
air. The doorway itself is of such small dimensions 
that, to effect an entrance, one has to go down on all 
fours, and even then much wriggling is necessary before 
an entrance is effected. The houses are neat in appear- 
ance, and are built of bamboos closely laid together, 
fastened with rattan, and covered with thatch, which 
renders them water-tight. Each building has an end 
walling before and behind, composed of solid blocks of 
wood, and the sides are covered in by the pent-roofing, 
which slopes down to the ground. The front wall or 
planking contains the entrance or doorway. The inside 
of a hut is from 8 to 15 feet square, and is sufficiently 
high in the middle to admit of a tall man moving about 
with comfort. On one side there is a raised platform or 
pial formed of clay, about two feet high, and covered 
with sambar (deer) or buffalo skins, or sometimes with 
a mat. This platform is used as a sleeping place. On 
the opposite side is a fire place, and a slight elevation, 
on which the cooking utensils are placed. In this part 
of the building, faggots of firewood are seen piled up 
from floor to roof, and secured in their place by loops of 
rattan. Here also the rice-pounder or pestle is fixed. 
The mortar is formed by a hole dug in the ground, 
7 to 9 inches deep, and hardened by constant use. The 
other household goods consist of three or four brass 
dishes or plates, several bamboo measures, and some- 
times a hatchet. Each hut or dwelling is surrounded 

131 TOD A 

by an enclosure or wall formed of loose stones piled up 
two or three feet high [with openings too narrow to 
permit of a buffalo entering through it]. The dairy 
is sometimes a building slightly larger than the others, 
and usually contains two compartments separated by a 
centre planking. One part of the dairy is a store-house 
for ghee, milk and curds, contained in separate vessels. 
The outer apartment forms the dwelling place of the 
dairy priest. The doorways of the dairy are smaller 
than those of the dwelling huts. The flooring of 
the dairy is level, and at one end there is a fire- 
place. Two or three milk pails or pots are all that 
it usually contains. The dairy is usually situated at 
some little distance from the habitations. The huts 
where the calves are kept are simple buildings, some- 
what like the dwelling huts. In the vicinity of the 
mands are the cattle-pens or tuels[tu], which are circular 
enclosures surrounded by a loose stone wall, with a 
single entrance guarded by powerful stakes. In these, 
the herds of buffaloes are kept at night. Each mand 
possesses a herd of these animals." It is noted by 
Dr. Rivers that " in the immediate neighbourhood of a 
village there are usually well-worn paths, by which the 
village is approached, and some of these paths or kalvol 
receive special names. Some may not be traversed by 
women. Within the village there are also certain recog- 
nised paths, of which two are specially important. One, 
the punetkalvol, is the path by which the dairy man 
goes from his dairy to milk or tend the buffaloes ; the 
other is the majvatitthkalvol, the path which the women 
must use when going to the dairy to receive butter-milk 
(maj) from the dairy man. Women are not allowed to 
go to the dairy or to other places connected with it, except 
at appointed times, when they receive buttermilk." 

VII-9 B 

TODA 132 

In addition to the dairies which in form resemble the 
dweUino-huts, the Todas keep up as dairy-temples certain 
curious conical edifices, of which there are said to be four 
on the Nilgiri plateau, viz., at the Muttanad mand, near 
Kotagiri, near Sholur, and at Mudimand. The last was 
out of repair a few years ago, but was, I was informed, 
going to be rebuilt shortly. It is suggested by Dr. 
Rivers as probable that in many cases a dairy, originally 
of the conical form, has been rebuilt in the same form as 
the dwelling-hut, owing to the difficulty and extra labour 
of reconstruction in the older shape. The edifice at the 
Muttanad mand (or Nodrs), at the top of the Sigur ghat, is 
known to members of the Ootacamund Hunt as the Toda 
cathedral. It has a circular stone base and a tall conical 
thatched roof crowned with a large flat stone, and is 
surrounded by a circular stone wall. To penetrate 
within the sacred edifice was forbidden, but we were 
informed that it contained milking vessels, dairy appa- 
ratus, and a swami in the guise of a copper bell (mani). 
The dairyman is known as the varzhal or wursol. In 
front of the cattle-pen of the neighbouring mand, I 
noticed a grass-covered mound, which, I was told, is 
sacred. The mound contains nothing buried within it, but 
the bodies of the dead are placed near it, and earth from 
the mound is placed on the corpse before it is removed 
to the burning-ground. At "dry funerals" the buffalo is 
said to be slain near the mound. It has been suggested 
by Colonel Marshall * that the '* boa or boath [poh.] is not 
a true Toda building, but may be the bethel of some tribe 
contemporaneous with, and cognate to the Todas, which, 
taking refuge, like them, on these hills, died out in their 

• A Phrenologist among the Todas, 1873. 






133 TODA 

Despite the hypothesis of Dr. Rivers that the Todas 
are derived from one or more of the races of Malabar, 
their origin is buried among th». secrets of the past. So 
too is the history of the ancient builders of cairns and 
barrows on the Nilgiri plateau, which were explored by 
Mr. Breeks when Commissioner of the Nilgiris.* The 
bulk of the Breeks' collection is now preserved in the 
Madras Museum, and includes a large series of articles 
in pottery, quite unlike anything known from other parts 
of Southern India. Concerning this series, Mr. R. Bruce 
Foote writes as follows. t " The most striking objects 
are tall jars, many-storied cylinders, of varying diameter 
with round or conical bases, fashioned to rest upon 
pottery ring-stands, or to be stuck into soft soil, like the 
amphorae of classical times. These jars were surmounted 
by domed lids. On these lids stood or sat figures of the 
most varied kind of men, or animals, much more rarely of 
inanimate objects, but all modelled in the rudest and 
most grotesque style. Grotesque and downright ugly 
as are these figures, yet those representing men and 
women are extremely interesting from the light they 
throw upon the stage of civilization their makers had 
attained to, for they illustrate the fashion of the garments 
as also of the ornaments they wore, and of the arms or 
implements carried by them. The animals they had 
domesticated, those they chased, and others that they 
probably worshipped, are all indicated. Many figures 
of their domestic animals, especially their buffaloes and 
sheep, are decorated with garlands and bells, and show 
much ornamentation, which seems to indicate that they 
were painted over, a custom which yet prevails in many 

* J. W. Breeks. Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the 
Nilgiris, 1873, 

t Catalogue of the Prehistoric Antiquities, Government Museum, Madras, 1901. 

TOD A 134 

parts." Among the most interesting figures are those 
of heavily bearded men riding on horses, and big-horned 
buffaloes which might have been modelled from the Toda 
buffaloes of to-day, and, like these, at funerals and migra- 
tion ceremonies, bear a bell round the neck. 

Two forms of Toda dairy have so far been noticed. 
But there remains a third kind, called the ti mand, con- 
cerning which Dr. Rivers writes as follows. " The ti 
is the name of an institution, which comprises a herd of 
buffaloes, with a number of dairies and grazing districts, 
tended by a dairy-man priest called palol, with an assist- 
ant called kaltmokh. Each dairy, with its accompanying 
buildings and pasturage, is called a ti mad, or ti village. 
The buffaloes belonging to a ti are of two kinds, distin- 
guished as persiner and punir. The former are the 
sacred buffaloes, and the elaborate ceremonial of the ti 
dairy is concerned with their milk. The punir corre- 
spond in some respects to the putiir of the ordinary 
village dairy, and their milk and its products are 
largely for the personal use and profit of the palol, and 
are not treated with any special ceremony. During the 
whole time he holds office, the palol may not visit his 
home or any other ordinary village, though he may visit 
another ti village. Any business with the outside world 
is done either through the kaltmokh, or with people who 
come to visit him at the ti. If the palol has to cross a 
river, he may not pass by a bridge, but must use a ford, 
and it appears that he may only use certain fords. The 
palol must be celibate, and, if married, he must leave 
his wife, who is in most cases also the wife of his 
brother or brothers." I visited the ti mand near Paikara 
by appointment, and, on arrival near the mand, found 
the two palols, well-built men aged about thirty and fifty, 
clad in black cloths, and two kaltmokhs, youths aged 

135 TODA 

about eight and ten, naked save for a loin-cloth, seated on 
the ground, awaiting our arrival. As a mark of respect 
to the palols, the three Todas who accompanied me 
arranged their putkulis so that the right arm was laid 
bare, and one of them, who was wearing a turban, 
removed it. A long palaver ensued in consequence of 
the palols demanding ten rupees to cover the expenses 
of the purificatory ceremonies, which, they maintained, 
would be necessary if I desecrated the mand by photo- 
graphing it. Eventually, however, under promise of a 
far smaller sum, the dwelling-hut was photographed, with 
palols, kaltmokhs, and a domestic cat seated in front of it. 
In connection with the palol being forbidden to cross 
a river by a bridge, it may be noted that the river which 
flows past the Paikara bungalow is regarded as sacred 
by the Todas, and, for fear of mishap from arousing the 
wrath of the river god, a pregnant Toda woman will not 
venture to cross it. The Todas will not use the river 
water for any purpose, and they do not touch it unless 
they have to ford it. They then walk through it, and, 
on reaching the opposite bank, bow their heads. Even 
when they walk over the Paikara bridge, they take their 
hand out of the putkuli as a mark of respect. Concern- 
ing the origin of the Paikara river, a grotesque legend 
was narrated to us. Many years ago, the story goes, two 
Todas, uncle and nephew, went out to gather honey. 
After walking for a few miles they separated, and 
proceeded in different directions. The uncle was 
unsuccessful in the search, but the more fortunate 
nephew secured two kandis (bamboo measures) of honey. 
This, with a view to keeping it all for himself, he 
secreted in a crevice among the rocks, with the excep- 
tion of a very small quantity, which he made his uncle 
believe was the entire product of his search. On the 

TODA 136 

following day, the nephew went alone to the spot where 
the honey was hidden, and found, to his disappointment, 
that the honey was leaking through the bottom of the 
bamboo measures, which were transformed into two 
snakes. Terrified at the sight thereof, he ran away, but 
the snakes pursued him (may be they were hamadryads, 
which have the reputation of pursuing human beings). 
After running a few minutes, he espied a hare {Lepus 
nigricollis) running across his course, and, by a skilful 
manoeuvre, threw his body-cloth over it. Mistaking it 
for a man, the snakes followed in pursuit of the hare, 
which, being very fleet of foot, managed to reach the 
sun, which became obscured by the hoods of the reptiles. 
This fully accounts for the solar eclipse. The honey, 
which leaked out of the vessels, became converted into 
the Paikara river. 

In connection with the migrations of the herds of 
buffaloes, Dr. Rivers writes as follows. "At certain 
seasons of the year, it is customary that the buffaloes 
both of the village and the ti should migrate from one 
place to another. Sometimes the village buffaloes are 
accompanied by all the inhabitants of the village ; some- 
times the buffaloes are only accompanied by their dairy- 
man and one or more male assistants. There are two 
chief reasons for these movements of the buffaloes, of 
which the most urgent is the necessity for new grazing- 
places .... The other chief reason for the 
migrations is that certain villages and dairies, formerly 
important and still sacred, are visited for ceremonial 
purposes, or out of respect to ancient custom." For the 
following note on a buffalo migration which he came 
across, I am indebted to Mr. H. C. Wilson. "During 
the annual migration of buffaloes to the Kundahs, and 
when they were approaching the bridle-path leading from 


137 TODA 

Avalanche to Sispara, I witnessed an interesting custom. 
The Toda family had come to a halt on the far side of the 
path ; the females seated themselves on the grass, and 
awaited the passing of the sacred herd. This herd, 
which had travelled by a recognised route across country, 
has to cross the bridle-path some two or three hundred 
yards above the Avalanche-Sispara sign-post. Both the 
ordinary and sacred herd were on the move together. 
The former passed up the Sispara path, while the latter 
crossed in a line, and proceeded slightly down the hill, 
eventually crossing the stream and up through the 
sholas over the steep hills on the opposite side of the 
valley. As soon as the sacred herd had crossed the 
bridle-path, the Toda men, having put down all their 
household utensils, went to where the women and girls 
were sitting, and carried them, one by one, over the 
place where the buffaloes had passed, depositing them 
on the path above. One of the men told me that the 
females are not allowed to walk over the track covered 
by the sacred herd, and have to be carried whenever it 
is necessary to cross it. This herd has a recognised 
tract when migrating, and is led by the old buffaloes, 
who appear to know the exact way." 

The tenure under which lands are held by the Todas 
is summed up as follows by Mr. R. S. Benson in his 
report on the revenue settlement of the Nilgiris, 1885. 
" The earliest settlers, and notably Mr. Sullivan, strongly 
advocated the claim of the Todas to the absolute 
proprietary right to the plateau [as lords of the soil] ; 
but another school, led by Mr. Lushington, has strongly 
combated these views, and apparently regarded the 
Todas as merely occupiers under the ryotwari system in 
force generally in the Presidency. From the earliest times 
the Todas have received from the cultivating Badagas 


an offering or tribute, called gudu or basket] of grain, 
partly in compensation for the land taken up by the 
latter for cultivation, and so rendered unfit for grazing 
purposes, but chiefly as an offering to secure the favour, 
or avert the displeasure of the Todas, who, like the 
Kurumbas {q.v.\ are believed by the Badagas to have 
necromantic powers over their health and that of their 
herds. The European settlers also bought land in 
Ootacamund from them, and to this day the Government 
pays them the sum of Rs. 150 per mensem, as com- 
pensation for interference with the enjoyment of their 
pastoral rights in and about Ootacamund. Their posi- 
tion was, however, always a matter of dispute, until it 
was finally laid down in the despatch of the Court of 
Directors, dated 2 ist January, 1843. It was then decided 
that the Todas possessed nothing more than a prescrip- 
tive right to enjoy the privilege of pasturing their herds, 
on payment of a small tax, on the State lands. The 
Court desired that they should be secured from inter- 
ference by settlers in the enjoyment of their mands, 
and of their spots appropriated to religious rites. 
Accordingly pattas were issued, granting to each mand 
three bullahs (11*46 acres) of land. In 1863 Mr. Grant 
obtained permission to make a fresh allotment of nine 
bullahs (34'38 acres) to each mand on the express con- 
dition that the land should be used for pasturage only, and 
that no right to sell the land or the wood on it should be 
thereby conveyed. It may be added that the so-called 
Toda lands are now regarded as the inalienable common 
property of the Toda community, and unauthorised aliena- 
tion is checked by the imposition of a penal rate of 
assessment (G.O., i8th April 1882). Up to the date 
of this order, however, alienations by sale or lease were 
of frequent occurrence. It remains to be seen whether 

139 TOD A 

the present orders and subordinate staff will be more 
adequate than those that went before to check the 
practices referred to." With the view of protecting the 
Toda lands, Government took up the management of 
these lands in 1893, and framed rules, under the Forest 
Act, for their management, the rights of the Todas over 
them being in no way affected by the rules of which the 
following is an abstract : — 

1. No person shall fell, girdle, mark, lop, uproot, 
or burn, or strip off the bark or leaves from, or otherwise 
damage any tree growing on the said lands, or remove the 
timber, or collect the natural produce of such trees or 
lands, or quarry or collect stone, lime, gravel, earth or 
manure upon such lands, or break up such lands for cul- 
tivation, or erect buildings of any description, or cattle 
kraals ; and no person or persons, other than the Todas 
named in the patta concerned, shall graze cattle, sheep, 
or goats upon such lands, unless he is authorised so 
to do by the Collector of Nilgiris, or some person 
empowered by him. 

2. The Collector may select any of the said lands to 
be placed under special fire protection. 

3. No person shall hunt, beat for game, or shoot in 
such lands without a license from the Collector. 

4. No person shall at any time set nets, traps, or 
snares for game on such lands. 

5. All Todas in the Nilgiri district shall, in respect 
of their own patta lands, be exempt from the operation 
of the above rules, and shall be at liberty to graze their 
own buffaloes, to remove fuel and grass for their 
domestic requirements, and to collect honey or wax upon 
such lands. They shall likewise be entitled to, and shall 
receive free permits for building or repairing their mands 
and temples. 

TODA 140 

6. The Collector shall have power to issue annual 
permits for the cultivation of grass land only in Toda 
pattas by Todas themselves, free of charge, or otherwise 
as Government may, from time to time, direct ; but no 
Toda shall be at liberty to permit any person, except a 
Toda, to cultivate, or assist in the cultivation of such 

In 1905, the Todas petitioned Government against 
the prohibition by the local Forest authorities of the 
burning of grass on the downs, issued on the ground of 
danger to the sholas (wooded ravines or groves). This 
yearly burning of the grass was claimed by the Todas to 
improve it, and they maintained that their cattle were 
deteriorating for want of good fodder. Government 
ruled that the grass on the plateau has been burnt by 
the inhabitants at pleasure for many years without any 
appreciable damage to forest growth, and the practice 
should not be disturbed. 

Concerning the social organisation of the Todas, Mr. 
Breeks states that they are "divided into two classes, 
which cannot intermarry, viz., Devalyal and TarserzhUL 
The first class consists of Peiki class, corresponding 
in some respects to Brahmans ; the second of the four 
remaining classes the Pekkan, Kuttan, Kenna, and Todi. 
A Peiki woman may not go to the village of the Tarser- 
zhal, although the women of the latter may visit Peikis." 
The class names given by Mr. Breeks were readily 
recognised by the Todas whom I interviewed, but they 
gave Terthal (comprising superior Peikis) and Tarthal 
as the names of the divisions. They told me that, when 
a Terthal woman visits her friends at a Tarthal mand, 
she is not allowed to enter the mand, but must stop at 
a distance from it. Todas as a rule cook their rice in 
butter-milk, but, when a Terthal woman pays a visit to 

141 TOD A 

Tarthal mand, rice is cooked for her in water. When a 
Tarthal woman visits at a Terthal mand, she is permitted 
to enter into the mand, and food is cooked for her in butter- 
milk. The restrictions which are imposed on Terthal 
women are said to be due to the fact that on one occasion 
a Terthal woman, on a visit at a Tarthal mand, folded up 
a cloth, and placed it under her putkuli as if it was a baby. 
When food was served, she asked for some for the child, 
and on receiving it, exhibited the cloth. The Tarthals, 
not appreciating the mild joke, accordingly agreed to 
degrade all Terthal women. According to Dr. Rivers, 
" the fundamental feature of the social organisation is the 
division of the community into two perfectly distinct 
groups, the Tartharol and the Teivaliol [=D^valy^l of 
Breeks]. There is a certain amount of specialisation of 
function, certain grades of the priesthood being filled 
only by members of the Teivaliol. The Tartharol and 
Teivaliol are two endogamous divisions of the Toda 
people. Each of these primary divisions is sub-divided 
into a number of secondary divisions [clans]. These are 
exogamous. Each class possesses a group of villages, 
and takes its name from the chief of these villages, 
Etudmad. The Tartharol are divided into twelve clans, 
the Teivaliol into six clans or madol." 

When a girl has reached the age of puberty, she goes 
through an initiatory ceremony, in which a Toda man 
of strong physique takes part. One of these splendid 
specimens of human muscularity was introduced to me 
on the occasion of a phonograph recital at the Paikara 

Concerning the system of polyandry as carried out by 
the Todas, Dr. Rivers writes as follows. " The Todas 
have long been noted as a polyandrous people, and the 
institution of polyandry is still in full working order 

TODA 142 

among them. When the girl becomes the wife of a boy, 
it is usually understood that she becomes also the wife 
of his brothers. In nearly every case at the present time, 
and in recent generations, the husbands of a woman are 
own brothers. In a few cases, though not brothers, they 
are of the same clan. Very rarely do they belong to 
different clans. One of the most interesting features of 
Toda polyandry is the method by which it is arranged 
who shall be regarded as the father of a child. For all 
social and legal purposes, the father of a child is the man 
who performs a certain ceremony about the seventh 
month of pregnancy, in which an imitation bow and 
arrow are given to the woman. When the husbands are 
own brothers, the eldest brother usually gives the bow 
and arrow, and is the father of the child, though, so long 
as the brothers live together, the other brothers are also 
regarded as fathers. It is in the cases in which the 
husbands are not own brothers that the ceremony becomes 
of real social importance. In these cases, it is arranged 
that one of the husbands shall give the bow and arrow, 
and this man is the father, not only of the child born 
shortly afterwards, but also of all succeeding children, 
till another husband performs the essential ceremony. 
Fatherhood is determined so essentially by this cere- 
mony that a man who has been dead for several years 
is regarded as the father of any children born by his 
widow, if no other man has given the bow and arrow. 
There is no doubt that, in former times, the polyandry 
of the Todas was associated with female infanticide, and 
it is probable that the latter custom still exists to some 
extent, though strenuously denied. There is reason to 
believe that women are now more plentiful than formerly, 
though they are still in a distinct minority. Any 
increase, however, in the number of women does not 

143 TODA 

appear to have led to any great diminution of poly- 
androus marriages, but polyandry is often combined with 
polygyny. Two or more brothers may have two or 
more wives in common. In such marriages, however, it 
seems to be a growing custom that one brother should 
give the bow and arrow to one wife, and another 
brother to another wife." 

The pregnancy ceremony referred to above is called 
pursutpimi, or bow (and arrow) we touch. According 
to the account given to me by several independent 
witnesses, the woman proceeds, accompanied by members 
of the tribe, on a new moon-day in the fifth or seventh 
month of her pregnancy, to a shola, where she sits with 
the man who is to become the father of her child near a 
kiaz tree (^Eugenia Arnottiana). The man asks the 
father of the woman if he may bring the bow, and, on 
obtaining his consent, goes in search of a shrub {Sopkora 
glauca), from a twig of which he makes a mimic bow. 
The arrow is represented by a blade of grass called nark 
(Andropogon Sckcenanihus). Meanwhile a triangular 
niche has been cut in the kiaz tree, in which a lighted 
lamp is placed. The woman seats herself in front of the 
lamp, and, on the return of the man, asks thrice " Whose 
bow is it ? " or " What is it ? " meaning to whom, or to 
which mand does the child belong? The bow and 
arrow are handed to the woman, who raises them to her 
head, touches her forehead with them, and places them 
near the tree. From this moment the lawful father of 
the child is the man from whom she has received the 
bow and arrow. He places on the ground at the foot 
of the tree some rice, various kinds of grain, chillies, 
jaggery (crude sugar), and salt tied in a cloth. All those 
present then leave, except the man and woman, who 
remain near the tree till about six o'clock in the evening, 

TODA 144 

when they return to the mand. The time is determined, 
in the vicinity of Ootacamund, by the opening of the 
flowers of Onothera tetraptera (evening primrose), a 
garden escape called by the Todas aru mani pQv (six 
o'clock flower), which opens towards evening.* It may 
be noted thai, at the second funeral of a male, a minia- 
ture bow and three arrows are burnt with various other 
articles within the stone circle (azaram). 

A few years ago (1902), the Todas, in a petition to 
Government, prayed for special legislation to legalise 
their marriages on the lines of the Malabar Marriage 
Act. The Government was of opinion that legislation 
was unnecessary, and that it was open to such of the 
Todas as were willing to sign the declaration prescribed 
by section 10 of the Marriage Act III of 1872 to contract 
legal marriages under the provision of that Act. The 
Treasury Deputy Collector of the Nilgiris was appointed 
Registrar of Toda marriages. No marriage has been 
registered up to the present time. 

The practice of infanticide among the Todas is best 
summed up in the words of an aged Toda during an 
interview with Colonel Marshall.f " I was a little boy 
when Mr. Sullivan (the first English pioneer of the 
Nilgiris) visited these mountains. In those days it was 
the custom to kill children, but the practice has long 
died out, and now one never hears of it. I don't know 
whether it was wrong or not to kill them, but we were 
very poor, and could not support our children. Now 
every one has a mantle (putkuli), but formerly there 
was only one for the whole family. We did not kill 
them to please any god, but because it was our custom. 
The mother never nursed the child, and the parents did 

* I have seen this plant growing on the grass in front of the Paikara bungalovr. 
t 0/, cit. 










145 TODA 

not kill it. Do you think we could kill it ourselves? 
Those tell lies who say we laid it down before the open- 
ing of the buffalo-pen, so that it might be run over and 
killed by the animals. We never did such things, and 
it is all nonsense that we drowned it in buffalo's milk. 
Boys were never killed — only girls ; not those who were 
sickly and deformed — that would be a sin ; but, when 
we had one girl, or in some families two girls, those 
that followed were killed. An old woman (kelachi) used 
to take the child immediately it was born, and close 
its nostrils, ears, and mouth with a cloth thus — here 
pantomimic action. It would shortly droop its head, 
and go to sleep. We then buried it in the ground. The 
kelachi got a present of four annas for the deed." The 
old man's remark about the cattle-pen refers to the 
Malagasy custom of placing a new-born child at the 
entrance to a cattle-pen, and then driving the cattle over 
it, to see whether they would trample on it or not.* 
The Missionary Metz f bears out the statement that the 
Toda babies were killed by suffocation. 

At the census, 1901, 453 male and 354 female 
Todas were returned. In a note on the proportion of 
the sexes among the Todas, Mr. R. C. Punnett states J 
that " all who have studied the Todas are agreed upon 
the frequency of the practice (of infanticide) in earlier 
times. Marshall, writing in 1872, refers to the large 
amount of female infanticide in former years, but 
expresses his conviction that the practice had by that 
time died out. Marshall's evidence is that of native 
assurance only. Dr. Rivers, who received the same 
assurance, is disinclined to place much confidence in 

* Ellis. History of Madagascar. 

t Tribes inhabiting the Neilgherry Hills. By a German missionary, 1856, 
X Proc. Cambridge Philosoph. Soc, XH, 1904. 

TOD A 146 

native veracity with reference to this point, and, in view 
of the lack of encouragement which the practice receives 
from tlie Indian Government, this is not altogether 
surprising. The supposition of female infanticide, by 
accounting for the great disproportion in the numbers 
of the sexes, brings the Todas into harmony with what 
is known of the rest of mankind." In summarising his 
conclusions, Mr. Punnett notes that : — 

(i) Among the Todas, males predominate greatly 
over females. 

(2) This preponderance is doubtless due to the 
practice of female infanticide, which is probably still to 
some extent prevalent. 

(3) The numerical preponderance of the males has 
been steadily sinking during recent years, owing proba- 
bly to the check which foreign intercourse has imposed 
upon female infanticide. 

In connection with the death ceremonies of the 
Todas, Dr. Rivers notes that " soon after death the body 
is burnt, and the general name for the ceremony on this 
occasion is etvainolkedr, the first day funeral. After an 
interval, which may vary greatly in length, a second 
ceremony is performed, connected with certain relics of 
the deceased which have been preserved from the first 
occasion. The Toda name for this second funeral 
ceremony is marvainolkedr, the second day funeral, or 
* again which day funeral.' The funeral ceremonies are 
open to all, and visitors are often invited by the Todas. 
In consequence, the funeral rites are better known, and 
have been more frequently described than any other 
features of Toda ceremonial. Like nearly every institu- 
tion of the Todas, however, they have become known to 
Europeans under their Badaga names. The first funeral 
is called by the Badagas base kedu, the fresh or green 

147 TODA 

funeral, and the term ' green funeral ' has not only- 
become the generally recognised name among the 
European inhabitants of the Nilgiri hills, but has been 
widely adopted in anthropological literature. The 
second funeral is called by the Badagas bara kedu, the 
* dry funeral,' and this term also has been generally 
adopted." The various forms of the funeral ceremonies 
are discussed in detail by Dr. Rivers, and it must suffice 
to describe those at which we have been present as eye- 

I had the opportunity of witnessing the second 
funeral of a woman who had died from smallpox two 
months previously. On arrival at a mand on the open 
downs about five miles from Ootacamund, we were con- 
ducted by a Toda guide to the margin of a dense shola, 
where we found two groups seated apart, consisting of 
(a) women, girls, and brown-haired female babies, round 
a camp fire ; (d) men, boys, and male babies, carried, with 
marked signs of paternal affection, by their fathers. In 
a few minutes a murmuring sound commenced in the 
centre of the female group. Working themselves up to 
the necessary pitch, some of the women (near relatives 
of the deceased) commenced to cry freely, and the 
wailing and lachrymation gradually spread round the 
circle, until all, except little girls and babies who were 
too young to be affected, were weeping and mourning, 
some for fashion, others from genuine grief. In carrying 
out the orthodox form of mourning, the women first had 
a good cry to themselves, and then, as their emotions 
became more intense, went round the circle, selecting 
partners with whom to share companionship in grief. 
Gradually the group resolved itself into couplets of 
mourners, each pair with their heads in contact, and 
giving expression to their emotions in unison. Before 


TODA 148 

separating to select a new partner, each couple saluted 
by bowing the head, and raising thereto the feet of the 
other, covered by the putkuli. [I have seen women 
rapidly recover from the outward manifestations of grief, 
and clamour for money.] From time to time the company 
of mourners was reinforced by late arrivals from distant 
mands, and, as each detachment, now of men and now 
of women, came in view across the open downs, one 
could not fail to be reminded of the gathering of 
the clans on some Highland moor. The resemblance 
was heightened by the distant sound as of pipers, 
produced by the Kota band (with two police constables 
in attendance), composed of four Kotas, who made 
a weird noise with drums and flutes as they drew 
near the scene of action. The band, on arrival, took 
up a position close to the mourning women. As each 
detachment arrived, the women, recognising their 
relatives, came forward and saluted them in the manner 
customary among Todas by falling at their feet, and 
placing first the right and then the left foot on their 
head. Shortly after the arrival of the band, signals 
were exchanged, by waving of putkulis, between the 
assembled throng and a small detachment of men some 
distance off. A general move was made, and an 
impromptu procession formed, with men in front, band 
in the middle, and women bringing up the rear. A halt 
was made opposite a narrow gap leading into the shola ; 
men and women sat apart as before ; and the band 
walked round, discoursing unsweet music. A party of 
girls went off to bring fire from the spot just vacated 
for use in the coming ceremonial, but recourse was 
finally had to a box of matches lent by one of our party. 
At this stage we noticed a woman go up to the eldest 
son of the deceased, who was seated apart from the 

149 TOt)A 

other men, and would not be comforted in spite of her 
efforts to console him. On receipt of a summons from 
within the shola, the assembled Toda men and ourselves 
swarmed into it by a narrow track leading to a small 
clear space round a big tree, from a hole cut at the base 
of which an elderly Toda produced a piece of the skull 
of the dead woman, wrapped round with long tresses 
of her hair. It now became the men's turn to exhibit 
active signs of grief, and all of one accord commenced 
to weep and mourn. Amid the scene of lamentation, 
the hair was slowly unwrapt from off the skull, and 
burned in an iron ladle, from which a smell as of incense 
arose. A bamboo pot of ghi was produced, with which 
the skull was reverently anointed, and placed in a cloth 
spread on the ground. To this relic of the deceased 
the throng of men, amid a scene of wild excitement, 
made obeisance by kneeling down before it, and touching 
it with their foreheads. The females were not permitted 
to witness this stage of the proceedings, with the 
exception of one or two near relatives of the departed 
one, who supported themselves sobbing against the 
tree. The ceremonial concluded, the fragment of skull, 
wrapt in the cloth, was carried Mnto the open, where, 
as men and boys had previously done, women and girls 
made obeisance to it. A procession was then again 
formed, and marched on until a place was reached, 
where were two stone-walled kraals, large and small. 
Around the former the men, and within the latter the 
women, took up their position, the men engaging in 
chit-chat, and the women in mourning, which after a 
time ceased, and they too engaged in conversation. A 
party of men, carrying the skull, still in the cloth, set 
out for a neighbouring shola, where a kedu of several 
other dead Todas was being celebrated ; and a long 

TOD A 150 

pause ensued, broken eventually by the arrival of the 
other funeral party, the men advancing in several 
lines, with arms linked, and crying out U, hah ! U, hah, 
hah ! in regular time. This party brought with it pieces 
of the skulls of a woman and two men, which were 
placed, wrapt in cloths, on the ground, saluted, and 
mourned over by the assembled multitude. At this 
stage a small party of Kotas arrived, and took up their 
position on a neighbouring hill, waiting, vulture-like, 
for the carcase of the buffalo which was shortly to be 
slain. Several young men now went off across the 
hill in search of buffaloes, and speedily re-appeared, 
driving five buffaloes before them with sticks. As soon 
as the beasts approached a swampy marsh at the foot of 
the hill on which the expectant crowd of men was gathered 
together, two young men of athletic build, throwing off 
their putkulis, made a rush down the hill, and tried to 
seize one of the buffaloes by the horns, with the result 
that one of them was promptly thrown. The buffalo 
escaping, one of the remaining four was quickly caught 
by the horns, and, with arms interlocked, the men 
brought it down on its knees, amid a general scuffle. In 
spite of marked objection and strenuous resistance on 
the part of the animal — a barren cow — it was, by means 
of sticks freely applied, slowly dragged up the hill, 
preceded by the Kota band, and with a Toda youth 
pulling at its tail. Arrived at the open space between the 
kraals, the buffalo, by this time thoroughly exasperated, 
and with blood pouring from its nostrils, had a cloth put 
on its back, and was despatched by a blow on the poll 
with an axe deftly wielded by a young and muscular 
man. On this occasion no one was badly hurt by the 
sacrificial cow, though one man was seen washing his 
legs in the swamp after the preliminary struggle with 

1 5 1 TODA 

the beast. But Colonel Ross- King narrates how he saw 
a man receive a dangerous wound in the neck from a 
thrust of the horn, which ripped open a wide gash from 
the collar-bone to the ear. With the death of the 
buffalo, the last scene, which terminated the strange 
rites, commenced ; men, women, and children pressing 
forward and jostling one another in their eagerness to 
salute the dead beast by placing their hands between its 
horns, and weeping and mourning in pairs ; the facial 
expression of grief being mimicked when tears refused to 
flow spontaneously. 

The ceremonial connected with the final burning of 
the relics and burial of the ashes at the stone circle 
(azaram) are described in detail by Dr. Rivers. 

A few days after the ceremony just described, I was 
invited to be present at the funeral of a young girl who 
had died of smallpox five days previously. I proceeded 
accordingly to the scene of the recent ceremony, and 
there, in company with a small gathering of Todas from 
the neighbouring mands, awaited the arrival of the funeral 
cortege, the approach of which was announced by the 
advancing strains of Kota music. Slowly the procession 
came over the brow of the hill ; the corpse, covered by a 
cloth, on a rude ladder-like bier, borne on the shoulders 
of four men, followed by two Kota musicians ; the mother 
carried hidden within a sack ; relatives and men carrying 
bags of rice and jaggery, and bundles of wood of the 
kiaz tree {Eugenia Arnottiana) for the funeral pyre. 
Arrived opposite a small hut, which had been specially 
built for the ceremonial, the corpse was removed from the 
bier, laid on the ground, face upwards, outside the hut, 
and saluted by men, women, and children, with the same 
manifestations of grief as on the previous occasion. Soon 
the men moved away to a short distance, and engaged 

TODA 152 

in quiet conversation, leaving the females to continue 
inourninfT round the corpse, interrupted from time to time 
by the arrival of detachments from distant mands, whose 
first duty was to salute the dead body. Meanwhile a 
near female relative of the dead child was busily engaged 
inside the hut, collecting together in a basket small 
measures of rice, jaggery, sago, honey-comb, and the 
girl's simple toys, which were subsequently to be burned 
with the corpse. The mourning ceasing after a time, 
the corpse was placed inside the hut, and followed by 
the near relatives, who there continued to weep over it. 
A detachment of men and boys, who had set out in 
search of the buffaloes which were to be sacrificed, now 
returned driving before them three cows, which escaped 
from their pursuers to rejoin the main herd. A long 
pause ensued, and, after a very prolonged drive, three 
more cows were guided into a marshy swamp, where 
one of them was caught by the horns, and dragged 
reluctantly, but with little show of fight, to the strains 
of Kota drum and flute, in front of the hut, where it 
was promptly despatched by a blow on the poll. The 
corpse was now brought from within the hut, and placed, 
face upwards, with its feet resting on the forehead of 
the buffalo, whose neck was decorated with a silver 
chain, such as is worn by Todas round the loins, as no 
bell was available, and the horns were smeared with 
butter. Then followed frantic manifestations of grief, 
amid which the unhappy mother fainted. Mourning 
over, the corpse was made to go through a form of 
ceremony, resembling that which is performed during 
pregnancy with the first child. A small boy, three years 
old, was selected from among the relatives of the dead 
girl, and taken by his father in search of a certain grass 
{Andropogon Schcenanthus) and a twig of a shrub 

153 TODA 

(Sopkora glauca), which were brought to the spot 
where the corpse was lying. The mother of the dead 
child then withdrew one of its hands from the putkuli, 
and the boy placed the grass and twig in the hand, 
and limes, plantains, rice, jaggery, honey-comb, and 
butter in the pocket of the putkuli, which was then 
stitched with needle and thread in a circular pattern. 
The boy's father then took off his son's putkuli, and 
replaced it so as to cover him from head to foot. 
Thus covered, the boy remained outside the hut till the 
morning of the morrow, watched through the night by 
near relatives of himself and his dead bride. [On the 
occasion of the funeral of an unmarried lad, a girl is in 
like manner selected, covered with her putkuli from 
head to foot, and a metal vessel filled with jaggery, rice, 
etc., to be subsequently burnt on the funeral pyre, placed 
for a short time within the folds of the putkuli. Thus 
covered, the girl remains till next morning, watched 
through the dreary hours of the night by relatives. 
The same ceremony is performed over the corpse of a 
married woman who has not borne children, the husband 
acting as such for the last time, in the vain hope that 
the woman may produce issue in heaven.] The corpse 
was borne away to the burning-ground within the shola, 
and, after removal of some of the hair by the mother of 
the newly wedded boy, burned, with face upwards, amid 
the music of the Kota band, the groans of the assembled 
crowd squatting on the ground, and the genuine grief 
of the nearest relatives. The burning concluded, a 
portion of the skull was removed from the ashes, and 
handed over to the recently made mother-in-law of the 
dead girl, and wrapped up with the hair in the bark of 
the tud tree {Meliosma pungens). A second buffalo, 
which, properly speaking, should have been slain before 

TODA 154 

the corpse was burnt, was then sacrificed, and rice and 
jaggery were distributed among the crowd, which 
dispersed, leaving behind the youthful widower and his 
custodians, who, after daybreak, partook of a meal of 
rice, and returned to their mands ; the boy's mother 
takino- with her the skull and hair to her mand, where it 
would remain until the celebration of the second funeral. 
No attention is paid to the ashes after cremation, and 
they are left to be scattered by the winds. 

A further opportunity offered itself to be present at 
the funeral of an elderly woman on the open downs not 
far from Paikara, in connection with which certain details 
possess some interest. The corpse was, at the time of 
our arrival, laid out on a rude bier within an improvised 
arbour covered with leaves and open at each end, and 
tended by some of the female relatives. At some little 
distance, a conclave of Toda men, who rose of one 
accord to greet us, was squatting in a circle, among 
whom were many venerable white-turbaned elders of 
the tribe, protected from the scorching sun by palm-leaf 
umbrellas. Amid much joking, and speech-making by 
the veterans, it was decided that, as the eldest son of 
the deceased woman was dead, leaving a widow, this 
daughter-in-law should be united to the second son, 
and that they should live together as man and wife. 
On the announcement of the decision, the bridegroom- 
elect saluted the principal Todas present by placing his 
head on their feet, which were sometimes concealed 
within the ample folds of the putkuli. At the funeral of 
a married woman, three ceremonies must, I was told, 
be performed, if possible, by a daughter or daughter- 
in-law, viz. : — 

(i) Tying a leafy branch of the tiviri shrub 
{Atylosia Candolleand) in the putkuli of the corpse; 

155 TOD A 

(2) Tying balls of thread and cowry shells on the 
arm of the corpse, just above the elbow ; 

(3) Setting fire to the funeral pyre, which was, on 
the present occasion, done by lighting a rag fed with 
ghi with a match. 

The buffalo capture took place amid the usual excite- 
ment, and with freedom from accident ; and, later in 
the day, the stalwart buffalo catchers turned up at the 
travellers' bungalow for a pourboire in return, as they 
said, for treating us to a good fight. The beasts selected 
for sacrifice were a full-grown cow and a young calf. As 
they were dragged near to the corpse, now removed 
from the arbour, butter was smeared over the horns, and 
a bell tied round the neck. The bell was subsequently 
removed by Kotas, in whose custody, it was said, it was 
to remain till the next day funeral. The death-blow, or 
rather series of blows, having been delivered with the 
butt end of an axe, the feet of the corpse were placed at 
the mouth of the buffalo. In the case of a male corpse, 
the right hand is made to clasp the horns. [It is recorded 
by Dr. Rivers that, at the funeral of a male, men dance 
after the buffalo is killed. In the dancing a tall pole, 
called tadri or tadrsi, decorated with cowry shells, is 
used.] The customary mourning in couples concluded, 
the corpse, clad in four cloths, was carried on the 
stretcher to a clear space in the neighbouring shola, and 
placed by the side of the funeral pyre, which had been 
rapidly piled up. The innermost cloth was black in 
colour, and similar to that worn by a palol. Next to it 
came a putkuli decorated with blue and red embroideiy, 
outside which again was a plain white cloth covered over 
by a red cotton cloth of European manufacture. Seated 
by the side of the pyre, near to which I was courteously 
invited to take a seat on the stump of a rhododendron. 

TODA 156 

was an elderly relative of the dead woman, who, while 
watching the ceremonial, was placidly engaged in the 
manufacture of a holly walking-stick with the aid of a 
glass scraper. The proceedings were watched on behalf 
of Government by a forest guard, and a police constable 
who, with marked affectation, held his handkerchief to 
his nose throughout the ceremonial. The corpse was 
decorated with brass rings, and within the putkuli were 
stowed jaggery, a scroll of paper adorned with cowry 
shells, snuff and tobacco, cocoanuts, biscuits, various kinds 
of grain, ghi, honey, and a tin-framed looking-glass. A 
long purse, containing a silver Japanese yen and an Arcot 
rupee of the East India Company, was tied up in the 
putkuli close to the feet. These preliminaries concluded, 
the corpse was hoisted up, and swung three times over 
the now burning pyre, above which a mimic bier, made 
of slender twigs, was held. The body was then stripped 
of its jewelry, and a lock of hair cut off by the daughter- 
in-law for preservation, together with a fragment of the 
skull. I was told that, when the corpse is swung over 
the pyre, the dead person goes to amnodr (the world of 
the dead). In this connection. Dr. Rivers writes that 
" it would seem as if this ceremony of swinging the body 
over the fire was directly connected with the removal of 
the objects of value. The swinging over the fire would 
be symbolic of its destruction by fire ; and this symbolic 
burning has the great advantage that the objects of value 
are not consumed, and are available for use another time. 
This is probably the real explanation of the ceremony, 
but it is not the explanation given by the Todas them- 
selves. They say that long ago, about 400 years, a man 
supposed to be dead was put on the funeral pyre, and, 
revived by the heat, he was found to be alive, and was 
able to walk away from the funeral place. In consequence 

157 TODA 

of this, the rule was made that the body should always be 
swung three times over the fire before it is finally placed 
thereon." [Colonel Marshall narrates the story that a 
Toda who had revived from what was thought his death- 
bed, has been observed parading about, very proud and 
distinguished looking, wearing the finery with which he 
had been bedecked for his own funeral, and which he 
would be permitted to carry till he really departed this 
life.] As soon as the pyre was fairly ablaze, the mourners, 
with the exception of some of the female relatives, left the 
shola, and the men, congregating on the summit of a 
neighbouring hill, invoked their god. Four men, seized, 
apparently in imitation of the Kota Devadi, with divine 
frenzy, began to shiver and gesticulate wildly, while 
running blindly to and fro with closed eyes and shaking 
fists. They then began to talk in Malayalam, and offer 
an explanation of an extraordinary phenomenon, which 
had appeared in the form of a gigantic figure, which 
disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. At the annual 
ceremony of walking through fire (hot ashes) in that year, 
two factions arose owing to some dissension, and two sets 
of ashes were used. This seems to have annoyed the gods, 
and those concerned were threatened with speedy ruin. 
But the whole story was very vague. The possession by 
some Todas of a smattering of Malayalam is explained 
by the fact that, when grazing their buffaloes on the 
northern and western slopes of the Nilgiris, they come 
in contact with Malayalam-speaking people from the 
neighbouring Malabar district. 

At the funeral of a man (a leper), the corpse was 
placed in front of the entrance to a circle of loose stones 
about a yard and a half in diameter, which had been 
specially constructed for the occasion. Just before the 
buffalo sacrifice, a man of the Paiki clan standing near 

TODA 158 

the head of the corpse, dug a hole in the ground with a 
cane, and asked a Kenna who was standing on the other 
side, " Puzhut, Kenna," * shall I throw the earth? — three 
times. To which the Kenna, answering, replied " Puzhut " 
— throw the earth — thrice. The Paiki then threw some 
earth three times over the corpse, and three times into 
the miniature kraal. It is suggested by Dr. Rivers that 
the circle was made to do duty for a buffalo pen, as the 
funeral was held at a place where there was no tu (pen), 
from the entrance of which earth could be dug up. 

Several examples of laments relating to the virtues 
and life of the deceased, which are sung or recited in the 
course of the funeral ceremonies, are given by Dr. Rivers. 
On the occasion of the reproduction of a lament in my 
phonograph, two young women were seen to be crying 
bitterly. The selection of the particular lament was 
unfortunate, as it had been sung at their father's funeral. 
The reproduction of the recitation of a dead person's 
sins at a Badaga funeral quickly restored them to a 
state of cheerfulness. 

The following petition to the Collector of the Nilgiris 
on the subject of buffalo sacrifice may be quoted as a 
sign of the times, when the Todas employ petition- 
writers to express their grievances : — 

" According to our religious custom for the long 
period, we are bringing forward of our killing buffaloes 
without any irregular way. But, in last year, when the 
late Collector came to see the said place, by that he 
ordered to the Todas first not to keep the buffaloes 
without feeding in the kraal, and second he ordered 
to kill each for every day, and to clear away the 
buffaloes, and not to keep the buffaloes without food. 

* " Puzhutkina— Shall I throw earth ?" Rivers. 

159 TOD A 

We did our work according to his orders, and this excel- 
lent order was an ample one. Now this , a chief 

of the Todas, son of , a deceased Toda, the above 

man joined with the moniagar of village, joined 

together, and, dealing with bribes, now they arose 
against us, and doing this great troubles on us, and also, 

by this great trouble, one day Mr. came for 

shooting snapes (snipe) by that side. By chance one 
grazing buffalo came to him, push him by his horns 
very forcely, and wounded him on his leg. By the help 
of another gentleman who came with him he escaped, 
or he would have die at the moment. Now the said 

moniagar and joined together, want to finish the 

funeral to his late father on the i8th instant. For this 
purpose they are going to shut the buffaloes without 
food in the kraal on the i8th instant at lo o'clock. They 
are going to kill the buffaloes on the 19th instant at 
4 o'clock in the evening. But this is a great sin against 
god. But we beg your honour this way. That is, let 
them leave the buffaloes in the grazing place, and ask 
them to catch and kill them at the same moment. 
And also your honour cannot ordered them to keep 
them in the kraal without food. And, if they will desire 
to kill the buffaloes in this way, these buffaloes will 
come on us, and also on the other peoples one who, 
coming to see funs on those day, will kill them all by his 
anxious. And so we the Todas begs your honour to 
enquire them before the i8th, the said funeral ceremony 
commencing, and not to grant the above orders to 

A Whit Monday at Paikara was given up to an 
exhibition of sports and games, whereof the most 
exciting and interesting was a burlesque representation 
of a Toda funeral by boys and girls. A Toda, who was 

TODA 1 60 

fond of his little joke, applied the term pacchai kedu 
(green funeral) to the corpses of the flies entrapped by 
a viscous catch'em-alive-oh on the bungalow table. To 
the mock funeral rites arrived a party of youths, as from 
a distant mand, and crying out U, hah, in shrill 
mimicry of their elders. The lad who was to play the 
leading part of sacrificial buffalo, stripping off his 
putkuli, disappeared from sight over the brow of a low 
hillock. Above this eminence his bent and uplifted 
upper extremities shortly appeared as representatives of 
the buffalo horns. At sight thereof, there was a wild 
rush of small boys to catch him, and a mimic struggle 
took place, while the buffalo was dragged, amid good- 
tempered scuffling, kicks, and shouting, to the spot 
where the corpse should have been. This spot was, in 
the absence of a pseudo-dead body or stage dummy, 
indicated by a group of little girls, who had sat chatting 
together till the boy-beast arrived, when they touched 
foreheads, and went, with due solemnity, through the 
orthodox observance of mourning in couples. The 
buffalo was slain by a smart tap on the back of the head 
with a cloth, which did duty for an axe. As soon as the 
convulsive movements and twitchings of the death 
struggle were over, the buffalo, without waiting for an 
encore, retired behind the hillock once more, in order 
that the rough and tumble fight, which was evidently 
the chief charm of the game, might be repeated. The 
buffalo boy later on came in second in a flat race, and 
he was last seen protecting us from a mischievous- 
looking member of his herd, which was grazing on the 
main -road. Toda buffaloes, it may be noted, are not at 
all popular with members of the Ootacamund Hunt, as 
both horses and riders from time to time receive injuries 
from their horns, when they come in collision. 

l6l TODA 

While the funeral game was In progress, the men 
showed off their prowess at a game (eln),* corresponding 
to the English tip-cat, which is epidemic at a certain 
season in the London bye-streets. It is played with a 
bat like a broomstick, and a cylindrical piece of wood 
pointed at both ends. The latter is propped up against 
a stone, and struck with the bat. As it flies off the 
stone, it is hit to a distance with the bat, and caught (or 
missed) by the out fields. 

At the Muttanad mand, we were treated to a further 
exhibition of games. In one of these, called narthpimi, a 
flat slab of stone is supported horizontally on two other 
slabs fixed perpendicularly in the ground so as to form a 
narrow tunnel, through which a man can just manage to 
wriggle his body with difficulty. Two men take part in 
the game, one stationing himself at a distance of about 
thirty yards, the other about sixty yards from the tunnel. 
The front man, throwing off his mantle, runs as hard as 
he can to the tunnel, pursued by the * scratch ' man, whose 
object is to touch the other man's feet before he has 
squeezed himself through the tunnel. Another sport, 
which we witnessed, consists of trial of strength with a 
heavy globular stone, the object being to raise it up to 
the shoulder ; but a strong, well-built-man — he who was 
entrusted with slaying the funeral buffalo — failed to raise 
it higher than the pit of the stomach, though straining 
his muscles in the attempt. A splendidly made veteran 
assured me that, when young and lusty, he was able to 
accomplish the feat, and spoke sadly of degeneration in 
the physique of the younger members of the tribe. 

Mr. Breeks mentions that the Todas play a game 
resembling puss-in-the-corner, called karialapimi, which 

* Called by Breeks ilata, [which, Dr. Rivers suggests, is a Badaga name. 

TOD A 162 

was not included in the programme of sports got up for 
our benefit. Dr. Rivers writes that "the Todas, and 
especially the children, often play with mimic represent- 
ations of objects from practical life. Near the villages 1 
have seen small artificial buffalo-pens and fireplaces made 
by the children in sport." I have, on several occasions, 
come across young children playing with long and short 
pieces of twigs representing buffaloes and their calves, 
and going solemnly through the various incidents in 
the daily life of these animals. Todas, both old and 
young, may constantly be seen twisting flexible twigs 
into representations of buffaloes' heads and horns. 

Of Toda songs, the following have been collected : — 

Sunshine is increasing. Mist is fast gathering. 
Rain may come. Thunder roars. Clouds are 

Rain is pouring. Wind and rain have combined. 

Oh, powerful god, may everything prosper ! 

May charity increase ! 

May the buffaloes become pregnant ! 

See that the buffaloes have calves. 

See that the barren women have children. 

Go and tell this to the god of the land. 

Keygamor, Eygamor (names of buffaloes). 

Evening is approaching. The buffaloes are 

The calves also have returned. 

The buffaloes are saluted. 

The dairy-man beats the calves with his stick. 

Milk has been offered to the bell. 

It is growing dark. 

This is a buffalo with beautiful horns. 

A buffalo stupidly given away by the Badaga. 

A buffalo brought to the Kandal mand. 

1 63 TOD A 

Innerovya (name of buffalo). 

Like this buffalo there is no other. 

Parkur (name of a Toda). 

Like him there is no man. 

The sun is shining. The wind is blowing. 

Rain is coming. The trees are in flower. 

Tears are falling. The nose is burning. 

He is coming, holding up his umbrella. 

He is coming, wearing a good body-cloth. 

He is coming, wearing a good under-cloth. 

He (the palol) is coming, wearing a black cloth. 

He is coming, holding his walking-stick of palai 

I have a god. What is to become of me ? 
I am inclined to cry, my heart being heavy. 
Oh, my child ! Do not cry. It is still crying. 
Thuree. Thuree. See. Be quiet. 
A robust bull buffallo. Ach ! Ach ! 
A big buffalo not intended for killing. Ach ! Ach ! 
Is leading the cow buffalo. Ah ! Ah ! 
Two or three men are driving it. Ah ! Ah ! 

Song in honour of the arrival of the Mahardni- 
Regent of Mysore at Ootacamund. 

All we Todas go to her house, and dance before 

She gives us fifteen rupees. 
She comes near our women, and talks to them. 
She gives cloths to us. 
Next day we take milk, eight bottles in the 

morning, four in the evening. 
Month by month she pays us for our milk. 
She goes back to Mysore, and, when she goes, wc 

stand in a row before her. 


TODA 164 

She gives us presents ; cloths and three rupees. 
The women cut their hair, and stand before her. 

Marriage Song. 
Boys and girls are singing. 
Much money are they spending. 
To the girl her father is giving five buffaloes. 
The husband tells his wife that she must curl her 

If her hair is curled, all the people will rejoice. 
The buffalo is slain, and now we must all dance. 
Why are not more people here ? More should 

My buffalo is big, very big. 
Go quickly and catch it. 
The Todas are all there. They are standing in a 

Who will run, and catch the buffalo first ? 
To him will a present of five rupees be given. 
I will go and catch it first. 
The Todas are all fighting. 
The Todas are all feasting. 
People give them rice. 
The buffalo is coming. Two men run to catch it 

by the neck. 
Ten men collect the buffaloes. They pen them in 

a kraal. 
At one o'clock we take our food. 
The buffalo is running, and I hit it on the back 

with a stick. 
It swerves aside, but I drive it back to the 

Night comes, and we all dance. 
Next morning at ten o'clock we bring out the 

buffalo, and slay it. 

165 TODA 

At four in the morning we wrap rice and grain in a 

white cloth, and burn it. 
At eleven we cut the hair of the boys and girls. 
At four in the morning the priest goes to the 

temple (dairy). 
He lights the lamp. 
At eight he milks his buffaloes. 
He puts on no cloth. 
He places butter and ghi before the god. 
Then he grazes his buffaloes, and eats his food. 
Then he puts on his cloth. 
At three in the afternoon he goes again to the 

He kindles a fire, and lights the lamp. 
He puts milk in a chatty, and churns it into butter 

with a cane. 
He mixes water with the butter-milk, and gives it 

to the women to drink. 
He alone may sleep in the temple. 
At four in the morning he lets out the buffaloes to 

At seven he milks them. 
The woman's house is down the hill. 
The priest must not go in unto the woman. 
He may not marry. 

When he is twenty, he may not enter the temple. 
Another is made priest in his stead. 
The religious institutions of the Todas, including the 
elaborate dairy ritual, and their religion, are described 
in full detail by Dr. Rivers. The Todas have been to 
some extent influenced by Hinduism, and some visit the 
temples at Nanjengod in Mysore, Karamadai in the 
Coimbatore district, and other shrines, whereat they 
worship, present votive offerings, and pray for offspring, 

TODA 1 66 

etc. Writing in 1872, Mr. Breaks remarked that 
'• about Ootacamund, a few Todas have latterly begun 
to imitate the religious practices of their native neigh- 
bours. Occasionally children's foreheads are marked 
with the Siva spot, and my particular friend Kinniaven, 
after an absence of some days, returned with a shaven 
head from a visit to the temple of Siva at Nanjengudi." 
A man who came to my laboratory had his hair hanging 
down in long tails reaching below his shoulders. He 
had, he said, let it grow long because his wife, though 
married five years, had borne no child. A child had, 
however, recently been born, and, as soon as the second 
funeral of a relation had been performed, he was going 
to sacrifice his locks as a thank-offering at the Nanjengod 
temple. The following extracts from my notes will 
serve to illustrate the practice of marking (in some 
instances apparently for beauty's sake) and shaving as 
carried out at the present day. 

(i) Man, aged 28. Has just performed a ceremony 
at the ti mand. White curved line painted across fore- 
head, and dots below outer ends thereof, on glabella, and 
outside orbits. Smeared with white across chest, over 
outer side of upper arms and left nipple, across knuckles 
and lower end of left ulna, and on lobes of ears. 

(2) Man, aged 21. Painted on forehead as above. 
Smeared over chest and upper eye lids. 

(3) Man, aged 35. White spot painted on forehead. 

(4) Man, aged 30. Hair of head and beard cut 
short owing to death of grandfather. 

(5) Boy, aged 12. Shock head of hair, cut very 
short all over owing to death of grandfather. 

(6) Girl, aged 8. Hair shaved on top, back and 
sides of head, and in median strip from vertex to 


(7) Boy, aged 6. White spot painted between 
eyebrows. Hair shaved on top and sides of head, and 
in median strip from vertex to forehead. Hair brought 
forward in fringe over forehead on either side of median 
strip, and hanging down back of neck. 

(8) Male child, aged 18 months. White spot 
painted between eyebrows. Shaved on top and sides of 

Todupuzha Vellala. — For the following note, I am 
indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. Besides the 
Nanchinad Vellalas, there are, in Travancore, two 
sections of the Vellala caste, inhabiting the mountainous 
Todupuzha taluk. These are the Tenkanchi and Kumba- 
konam Vellalas. The former are known by the popular 
name of Anjuttilkar, or the five hundred, and the latter 
are designated Munnutilkar, or the three hundred, in 
reference to the number of families which originally 
settled in the taluk. Like the Nanchinad Vellalas, they 
take the title of Pillai, and, in special cases, the honorific 
prefix Kanakku. 

The Tenkanchi Vellalas appear to have dwelt origi- 
nally in the Tenkasi taluk of the Tinnevelly district, and 
to have emigrated, as the legend goes, on account of 
the demand of a Vaduka ruler for the hand of a member 
of their community in marriage. The Vadakkumkur 
Rajas were ruling over Todupuzha at the time of their 
migration, and afforded them a safe asylum. The 
Kumbakonam Vellalas believe that they emigrated to 
Travancore about the commencement of the Malabar 
era from Kumbakonam in the Tanjore district. Both 
divisions speak Malayalam, but there are clear indica- 
tions in their speech that their mother-tongue was once 
Tamil, and they always use that language in their 
ceremonial writings. The Anjuttilkar women have 


adopted the dress and ornaments of the Nayars. Both 
sections wear the tuft of hair in front, but the Munnutil- 
kar women do not tie the hair on the left side like the 
Nayars and Anjuttilkars, but behind like the Pandi 
Vellalas. Nor do the Anjuttilkar women wear a white 
dress like the Tenkanchis, but a coloured cloth, sixteen 
cubits in length, in orthodox Tamil fashion. Again, 
while the Tenkanchi women largely resort to the todu 
and other Nayar ornaments, the Kumbakonam women 
are more conservative, and wear only the pampadam 
and melidu, though they sometimes wear jewels, such 
as the nagapata tali for the neck. Both sections are 
Saivites, in the sense that they abstain from flesh 
and fish. 

Their principal occupation is agriculture. They 
worship the two mountain deities Bhadrakali and Durga. 
In the Kirikkot muri of the Karikkod proverty there is 
a temple dedicated to Siva or Unnamalanathar, with a 
large amount of property attached to it. This belongs 
to the Tenkanchi Vellalas, and a Malayalam Brahman 
performs the priestly functions. The Kumbakonam 
Vellalas have their own temples, such as the Ankalamma 
koil, Annamala matam, Virabhadran koil, etc., and 
worship, besides the principal gods of the Hindu 
pantheon, such minor deities as Virabhadran, Karuppan, 
Bhairavan, Mariamman, and Muttaramman. The priests 
of both sections are East Coast Brahmans, who live in 
the Todupuzha taluk. As their profession is regarded by 
other Brahmans as degrading, they, especially in the case 
of the Kumbakonam Vellalas, perform their duties 
stealthily. The headman of the Kumbakonam section 
lives in the Periyakulam taluk of the Madura district, 
and, by his order, an image of Siva is worshipped at 
their homes. 


Divorce is not permitted on any ground, and, in 
ancient days, widow remarriage was forbidden. There 
is a legend that a woman of this caste, who was a friend 
of the daughter of a certain Vadakkumkur Rajah, was 
so ao-grieved at the news of her newly married hus- 
band's death that, at her intercession, the Rajah issued a 
proclamation permitting the remarriage of widows. If 
no husband has been found for a girl before she reaches 
puberty, certain propitiatory rites have to be performed, 
at which one of her female relations represents her. On 
the fourth day of the marriage ceremony, the bride and 
bridegroom, before they bathe, rub each other's bodies 
with oil, and, going to a large caldron containing water, 
throw a gold and silver ring into it, and pick them out 
three times. Inheritance of both sections is from father 
to son (makkathayam). A sambandham alliance does 
not confer any rite of inheritance. 

The names of both sections are such as are unknown 
among Nayars, e.g., Sivalingam, Arunachalam, Chidam- 
baram, Arumukham. The Tenkanchis are considered 
to be higher in the social scale than the Kumbakonam 
section, as they observe only twelve days' death pollution, 
whereas the latter are under pollution for sixteen 
days. The Tenkanchis may enter the temple, and, like 
Nayars, stand on the left side of the inner shrine, 
whereas the Kumbakonam Vellalas may proceed only 
as far as the balikkalpura, or out-house of the temple, 
and not enter the nalambalam. Again, butter-milk 
is freely received by Brahmans from the Tenkanchis, 
but not from members of the Kumbakonam section. 
While Pandi Vellalas will not receive food from the 
Tenkanchis, or give their daughters in marriage to 
them, the latter will not intermarry with the Nanchinad 


Togata.— The Togatas are Telugu weavers, most 
numerous in the Cuddapah district, who manufacture the 
coarsest kind of cotton cloths, such as are worn by the 
poorer classes. They are generally Vaishnavites, wear 
the sacred thread, and have for their priests Vaishnava 
Brahmans or Satanis. They eat flesh, and their widows 
are allowed to remarry. Writing concerning the Togatas 
in 1807, Buchanan states* that "widows cannot marry 
again, but are not expected to kill themselves. The 
Panchanga, or village astrologer, attends at births, mar- 
riages, funerals, at the ceremonies performed in honour 
of their deceased parents, and at the building of a new 
house, and on each occasion gets a fee of one fanam, or 
eight pence. On other occasions, when a weaver wants 
to pray, he calls in a Satanana, who reads something in 
an unknown language, and gives the votary some holy 
water, which he consecrates by pouring it on the head 
of a small image that he carries about for the purpose." 

As regards their origin, some Togatas claim to be 
sons of Chaudesvari, who threw some rice on to the fire, 
from which sprang a host of warriors, whose descendants 
they are. Others give Puppandaja Rishi as the name of 
their ancestor. Concerning Chaudesvari, Mr. Francis 
writes as follows.! "Connected with the margosa tree 
{Melia Azadirachtd) is the worship of Chaudesvari, the 
goddess of the Togata caste of weavers. She is supposed 
to reside in margosa trees, and either the tree itself, or 
a stone representing the goddess and placed at its foot, 
is worshipped by the Togatas at certain seasons, such 
as the Telugu New Year Day. Apparently the other 
weaver castes take no share in the ceremonies. They 
consist largely of animal sacrifices. Nevertheless, a 

* Journey through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, 
t Gazetteer of the Anantapur district. 


particular class of Brahmans, called Nandavarikula 
Brahmans, take a prominent part in the festival. This 
name Nandavarikula is derived from the village of 
Nandavaram in Kurnool, and doubtless many stories are 
prevalent there about this sub-division. The account 
given at Tadpatri, where they are fairly numerous, is as 
follows. Once upon a time, a king from Southern India 
went on a pilgrimage with his wife to Benares. While 
there, he unwittingly incurred a nameless but heinous 
pollution. Horrified, he applied to some Brahmans 
there to purify him, promising them half his kingdom 
in return. They asked for some tangible record of this 
promise, and the king called upon the goddess Chaudes- 
vari, who had a temple near by, to witness his oath. 
The purification was effected, and he departed home. 
Later on the Brahmans came south, and asked for the 
fulfilment of his promise. The king declared that he 
could not remember having made any such undertaking. 
The Brahmans accordingly went to Benares, and asked 
Chaudesvari to come south, and bear witness to the 
king's oaths. She agreed, on the usual condition that 
they should go in front, and not look back at her as she 
came. As happens in other stories of the same kind, they 
are said to have broken the condition. At Nandavaram 
they looked back, and the goddess instantly stopped, and 
remained immoveable. A temple was built for her there, 
and the Brahmans remained in the south, and still take 
part in the worship of Chaudesvari which the Togatas 
inaugurate, even though she is not one of the Hindu 
pantheon, and delights in animal sacrifice. At Tadpatri 
other castes besides the Togatas help at the festival." 

Though Chaudesvari is the patron god of the 
Togatas, they also worship Poleramma, Ellamma, Ko- 
tamma, and other minor deities. 

TOHALA 1^:2 

The original occupation of the Togatas is said to 
have been dyeing, but, at the present day, owing to the 
depression in the hand-loom weaving industry, a large 
number have taken to cultivation. 

Like many other Telugu castes, they have exoga- 
mous septs, of which the following are examples : — 

Patha, old. 
Kambhapu, pillar. 
Nili, indigo. 
Madaka, plough. 
Bana, pot. 

Jllakara, cummin seed. 
Annam, food. 
Mekala, goat. 

Gopalam, alms. 

Samanthi, Chrysanthemum 

Gurram, horse. 
Perumal, a god. 
Bandari, treasurer ? 

Pujaris (priests) for temple worship are always 
elected from the Perumal sept, and caste messengers 
from the Bandari sept, if they are represented in a 
settlement. Torches are generally carried, at proces- 
sions, by men of the Gudditi sept. Members of the 
Gurram sept are not allowed to ride on horseback. 

The panchayat (village council) system is in vogue, 
but, in some places, a headman is selected, as occasion 
requires. In their marriage and funeral ceremonies, the 
Togatas closely follow the Telugu standard Puranic 
form of ceremonial. The dead are buried in a recumbent 
posture. On the last day of the death rites, the Satani 
gives arrack (liquor) to the Togatas, as to the Padma 
Sales, in lieu of holy water (thirtham). 

Tohala.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1 901, as a small class of Oriya hill cultivators and petty 
traders in the Ganjam Agency. 

Tolagari.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 
1901, as a sub-caste of Mutracha. In the North 
Arcot Manual the Tolagaris are described as a small 


cultivating caste, who were formerly hunters, like the 

Tolar (Wolf). — An exogamous sept of Halepaik. 
The equivalent Tolana occurs as a sept of Moger. 

Tolkollan.— The Tolkollans or Tolans (skin people) 
are summed up in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as 
"leather workers and dyers, and also gymnasts and 
teachers of gymnastics. They are also called Vatti 
Kurup, Chaya Kurup, and Vil Kurup. Their title is 
Kurup." The Tolkollans are stated * to be " blacksmiths 
by caste, who abandoned their hereditary trade for 
leather work, and they are chiefly employed by Mappillas. 
One peculiar custom in this caste is that two or more 
brothers may have one wife in common. Only those 
in good circumstances indulge in the luxury of a private 
wife. The following information furnished by Mr. 
S. Vaidyanadha Aiyar, the headmaster of the School of 
Commerce, Calicut, gives some information regarding 
leather work in Malabar : — 

{a) Boots and shoes of country make and English 

(d) Harness making. 

(c) Native shoes (ceruppu). These are of the 
special pattern peculiar to Malabar, and are largely used 
by all classes of the Hindu and Mappilla communities. 
The Arabs who visit this coast once a year purchase a 
considerable number to take back with them. The price 
of a pair varies from Rs. 1-8-0 to Rs. 5. Those with 
ornamental gold lace work cost from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50. 
These shoes are generally used by well-to-do Mappillas. 
White of egg is used to give a creaking sound to the 
shoes. This work is mainly done by Tholperunkollans 

• A. Chatterton. Monograph on Tanning and Working in Leather. 
Madras, 1904. 


and Mappillas, and the latter show more skill in finish 
and ornamental work. 

(d) Knife sheaths. Almost every Nayar, Tiyan 
and Mappilla carries a knife about a foot in length, and 
there is a demand for leather sheaths. These are made 
by Panans as well as by Tholperunkollans and Mappillas. 

(e) Leather baskets are also made, and are largely 
used as receptacles for carrying pepper, paddy (rice), 
and other grain. 

(/) Winnowing fans are made of leather, and are 
used in pepper and paddy yards, etc. 

(£■) Muttu ceruppu (clogs) are leather shoes with 
wooden soles. These are largely used during the rainy 

Tollakkadan (one with a big hole in the lobes of 
his ears). — Taken, at the census, 1901, as a sub-caste of 
Shanan, as those returning the name, who are vendors 
of husked rice in Madras, used the Shanan title Nadan. 
The equivalent Tollakadu was returned as a sub-division 
of Konga Vellala. 

Tol Mestri.— A sub-division of Semman. 

Tondaman.— It is stated, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1 90 1, that the Tondamans are "also called 
Sunnambukkaran {^.v.), a Tamil caste of lime (chunam) 
burners found only in the Tinnevelly district. They are 
said to be a branch of the Kalians who migrated to 
Tinnevelly from Pudukkottai, or the Tondaman's country. 
Its members are now drummers and pipers as well as 
lime-burners. Brahmans are their purohits, but they 
are not allowed to go into Hindu temples. They will 
eat in the houses of Maravans. Their title is Sdlagan." 
It is noted, in the same report, that the Semman caste 
" has two sub-divisions, Tondaman and Tol-mestri, and 
men of the former take wives from the latter, but men 

1 75 TONTI 

of the latter may not marry girls of the former." Tonda- 
man is the family name of the Raja of Pudukkottai, 
a Native State surrounded by the British districts of 
Tanjore, Madura, and Trichinopoly. The Raja is the 
head of the Kalian caste. Copper coins, called amman 
kasu, are current only within the State, and their greatest 
distribution is during Navaratri or Dusserah, when they 
are issued to the people with a dole of rice every day 
during the nine days of the festival. They bear on one 
side the word " Vijaya," meaning victory, or more 
probably having reference to our faithful ally Vijaya 
Ragunatha Tondaman, in whose reign they were first 
struck, it is said in 1761, after the surrender of Pondi- 
cherry to the British. 

Tondamandalam.— The name of a sub-division 
of Vellala, derived from Tondanadu, the ancient Pallava 

Tonti.— The Tontis are said to be cotton-weavers 
of Bengal, who have settled in Ganjam.* The name 
denotes threadmen, and the weaving of rough white 
cloths is the traditional occupation of the caste. All 
Tontis belong to a single gotra named after Kasyapa, 
one of the seven important rishis, and the priest of 
Parasurama. Various bamsams or exogamous septs, 
the names of some of which occur also as titles, exist, 
e.^., Biswalo, Dasso, Palo, Bono, Chondo, Parimaniko, 
Korono, Behara, and Mahapatro. The marriage and 
death ceremonies conform to the standard Oriya type. 
On the fourth day of the marriage rites, a Bhondari 
(barber) is presented with some beaten rice and sugar- 
candy in a new earthen pot. These are sold to those 
who have assembled, and the proceeds go to the Bhondari. 

• Cf. Tanti. Kisley, Tribes and Castes of Bengal. 


The corpse of a dead person is washed at the burning 
ground, instead of, in accordance with the common 
custom among other castes, at the house. 

Toppa Tali. — A name applied to certain Vaniyans 
in the North Arcot district, owing to the peculiar tali 
(marriage badge) which married women wear. 
Torai.— A title of various Oriya castes. 
Toreya.— The Toreyas are a Canarese class, living 
chiefly in the Tamil districts of Coimbatore and Salem. 
They are said to have been originally fishermen and 
palanquin bearers, and the name is derived from turai, 
a river ghat. Most of them are now cultivators, 
especially of the betel vine {Piper betle). Those whom 
I examined at Coimbatore were earning their living 
as betel and sugar-cane cultivators, vendors of tobacco, 
bakers, cloth merchants, contractors, petty traders, and 
police constables. 

By the Coimbatore Toreyas, the following endoga- 
mous divisions were returned : — 
Elai, leaf. Betel cultivators. 
Chunam, lime. Lime burners. 
Gazul, glass bangle. The Toreya caste is said to 
have originated from the bangles of Machyagandhi or 
Gandhavati, the daughter of a fisherman on the Jumna. 
She was married to king Shantanu of Hastinapur, 
who was one of the ancestors of the heroes of the 

Many exogamous septs exist among the Toreyas, 
of which the following are examples : — 

Belli, silver. May not wear silver toe-rings. 
Naga, snake. The members of the sept, at times 
of marriage, worship ant-hills, which are the 
home of snakes. 
Alwar or Garuda. 


Chinnam, gold. 

Kansugaje, small bronze bells, tied to the legs 
when dancing. 

Urukathi, a kind of knife. 

Vajjira, diamond. 

Vasishta, a Hindu saint. 

Mogila, clouds. 
Onne {Pterocarpus Marsupium). Do not mark their 
foreheads with the juice from the trunk of this tree. 

Kuzhal, the flute played by shepherd boys and snake 
charmers. If the sound thereof is heard during a meal, 
what remains of the food should be thrown away. 

Rakshasa, a giant. Do not celebrate the Dipavali 
festival in honour of the victory over, and death of, a 

Erumai, buffalo. 

The headman of the caste is called Ejaman, who has 
under him an officer entitled Dalavayi. The caste 
messenger bears the name of Kondikar. These three 
offices are hereditary. The Ejaman presides at council 
meetings which are held at the temple of the caste. 
The eldest member of each family is entitled to a seat 
on the council. Those who come late to a meeting 
thereof prostrate themselves before the assembly. 
Witnesses before the council have to take an oath, which 
is administered by the Kondikar. He makes the witness 
stand within a circle drawn on the ground, and makes 
him repeat the formula " Before God and the elders 
assembled, with the sky above and the earth beneath, I 
will state only the truth." The Kondikar then takes up 
a pinch of earth, and puts it on the head of the witness. 
For merely threatening to beat a person with shoes, 
the offender has to feed twenty-five castemen. If he 
takes the shoes in his hands he must feed fifty, and, if he 



actually resorts to beating with them, he has to feed 
a hundred men. In addition, the culprit has to pay 
a small fine, and both parties have to be purified at 
the temple. A similar punishment is enforced for 
beating, or threatening to beat with a broom. For 
adultery the guilty person is excommunicated, and is 
admitted back into the caste only after the death of 
one of the parties concerned. He then has to feed a 
large number of castemen, or pay a money fine, and, 
prostrating himself before the assembly, he is beaten 
with a tamarind switch. He further makes obeisance 
to the Ejaman, and washes his feet. The Ejaman then 
purifies him by a small piece of burning camphor in his 

When a married girl reaches puberty, she is taken 
to her father's house, and her husband constructs a hut 
with branches of Ficus glomerata. On the last day 
of her confinement therein, the hut is pulled down, and 
the girl sets fire to it. The house is purified, and the 
female relations go to the houses of the Ejaman and 
caste people, and invite them to be present at a cere- 
monial. A small quantity of turmeric paste is stuck on 
the doors of the houses of all who are invited. The 
relations and members of the caste carry betel, and 
other articles, on trays in procession through the streets. 
The girl is seated on a plank, and the trays are placed 
in front of her. Rice flour, fruits, betel, etc., are tied in 
her cloth, and she is taken into the house. In the case 
of an unmarried girl, the hut is built by her maternal 

Marriage is always celebrated at the house of the 
bridegroom, as there is a legend that a Rajah belonging 
to the Toreya caste had a son, who was taken to the 
house of his bride elect, and there murdered. The 


bridegroom's father and relations go to the house of the 
bride, and make presents of money, cloths, ornaments, 
etc. They also have to make obeisance to, and feed five 
married women sumptuously. Pandals (booths) are 
constructed at the houses of both the bride and bride- 
groom. Five married women go, on behalf of each of 
the contracting parties, to their houses, and pound rice 
there. On the second day, five such women fetch water 
from a tank, and bathe the bride and bridegroom 
respectively. The ten women then go to the potter's 
house, and bring five decorated pots. Three of these are 
taken to a tank, and filled with water. On the following 
day, the bridegroom and his sister take the two remaining 
pots to the tank, and fill them with water. The five 
pots are placed in the pandal, and represent the house- 
hold gods. The relations of the bridegroom take twelve 
kinds of ornaments, a new cloth, flowers, etc., to the 
house of the Ejaman, and go with him to the bride's 
house. She is then bathed, and decked with finery. A 
Brahman does puja (worship) and ties on her forehead a 
mandaikettu or bashingham (chaplet) made of gold leaf 
or tinsel. She is then carried in procession to the house 
of the bridegroom. Meanwhile, the Brahman ties a 
mandaikettu on the forehead of the bridegroom, who 
puts on the sacred thread, and sits within the pandal, 
holding a katar (dagger) in his hand, and closed in by a 
screen. The bride goes thrice round this screen, and the 
Brahman does puja and gives advice (upadesam) to the 
couple. The screen is then lowered slightly, and the 
bride and bridegroom garland each other. The bride's 
parents place a few gingelly (Sesamum) seeds in the 
hand of the bridegroom, and pour water thereon, saying 
that their daughter belongs to him, and telling him to 
take care of her. The tali, after being blessed by those 


TOREYA 1 80 

assembled, is given by the Brahman to the bridegroom, 
who ties it on the bride's neck. The screen is then 
removed, and the couple sit side by side. The sacred fire 
is lighted, their hands are linked together, and the ends 
of their cloths tied together. They then leave the pandal, 
and, placing their feet on a grindstone, look at the 
pole-star (Arundati). Entering the pandal once more, 
they sit therein, and the elders bless them by throwing 
rice coloured with turmeric over their heads. On the 
fourth day, they again sit within the pandal, and cooked 
rice, coloured white, red, yellow, green, and black, on 
five trays, and nine lighted wicks on a tray are waved 
before them. Five married men and women, holding a 
string, stand round them in a circle, within which is the 
bride's brother with a twig of pipal (Ficiis religiosa). 
The bridegroom places his hands together, and small 
rice cakes are placed on the head, shoulders, bend of 
the elbows and knees, and between the fingers of the 
couple. They are then bathed, and, taking betel in 
their hands, bow to the four corners of the earth. The 
bridegroom makes a namam (Vaishnavite sect mark), or 
places vibhuti (sacred ashes) on the twelve posts of the 
pandal, and the bride places a little cooked rice and 
water before each post, to which camphor is burnt, and 
puja done. They then start for the bride's house, but 
the bride's sister meets them at the entrance thereto, 
and will not allow them to go in until she has extracted 
a promise that their child shall marry hers. The bride 
proceeds to a tank, sowing some paddy (rice) on the way 
thither, and brings back a pot of water, with which she 
washes her husband's hands and feet. Husband and 
wife then feed each other with a small quantity of rice 
and milk. Their hands are then cleaned, and the bride's 
brother puts a gold ring on the finger of the bridegroom. 


A tray with betel leaves and areca nuts is brought, and 
the bridegroom ties three handfuls thereof in his cloth. 
The newly married couple then worship at the temple. 
On the fifth day, they carry the earthen pots to a river, 
and, on their return, five married women are worshipped 
and fed. Five men have to come forward as sureties 
for the good behaviour of the couple, and declare before 
those assembled that they will hold themselves responsi- 
ble for it. In the evening the pair go to the bride's 
house, and rub oil over each other's head before bathing 
in turmeric water. On the following day they repair to 
the house of the bridegroom. 

The corpse of a dead Toreya is placed in a pandal 
constructed of cocoanut leaves and stems of the milk- 
hedge {^Euphorbia Tirucalli). Sect marks are placed on 
the foreheads of the corpse and the widow. The son 
of the deceased dons the sacred thread. The funeral 
ceremonies resemble, in many particulars, those of 
the Oddes. A mound is piled up over the grave. A 
Paraiyan places a small twig of the arka plant 
{Calotropis gigantea) in three corners of the grave, 
leaving out the north-east corner, and the son puts a 
small coin on each twig. As he goes round the grave 
with a water-pot and fire-brand, his maternal uncle, who 
stands at the head of the grave, makes holes in the pot. 
On the third, fifth, seventh, or ninth day, the widow, 
dressed in new cloths, and bedecked with ornaments and 
flowers, is taken to the burial-ground, with offerings 
of milk, ghl (clarified butter), tender cocoanut, sandal, 
camphor, etc. Five small stones, smeared with turmeric 
and lime, are set up at the head of the grave, and 
worshipped. The widow goes thrice round the grave, 
and seats herself near the head thereof Her brother 
holds up her arms, and one of her husband's male 


relations breaks her bangles. She breaks, and throws 
her tali on the grave, with the flowers which adorn her. 
Her ornaments are removed, and she is covered with a 
cloth, and taken to a river, where she is rubbed with 
cow-dung and bathed. The son and other relatives go 
to the temple with butter and other articles. A Brah- 
man does puja, and shuts the doors of the temple. The 
son, with his back to the temple, throws a little butter 
on the doors, which are then opened by the Brahman. 
This is done thrice. On the seventh day, pollution is 
removed by sprinkling holy water, and the caste people 
are fed. A widow remains in seclusion (gosha) for 
three months. Sradh (memorial ceremony) is per- 

The Toreyas worship both Siva and Vishnu, but 
consider Ayodhya Raman as their special deity, and 
sacrifice sheep and fowls to Koriamma. 

Toreya.— A sub-division of the Badagas of the 

Tota (garden). — Recorded as a sub-division of culti- 
vating Balijas, and an exogamous sept of Boya, Chenchu, 
Vada Balija (or Mila), Mutracha and Bonthuk Savara. 
The equivalent Tota occurs as an exogamous sept of 
Kapu and Yanadi. Tota Devaru, or garden god, is the 
name of an exogamous sept of the Tigala gardeners and 

Totakura {Amarantus gangeticus).'^An exogamous 
sept of Kamma. 

Toththala or Tottadi. — A sub-division of Velama. 

Toti.— The Toti or Totti is one of the village com- 
munal servants. The name has been derived from tondu, 
to dig, or tott, to go round, as the Toti is the purveyor of 
news, and has to summon people to appear before the 
village council. The functions of this useful person to 


the community have been summed up as follows by a 
district official.* " This individual has all the dirty 
work of the village allotted to him. He is of the lowest 
caste, and hence makes no scruple of doing any manner 
of work that he may be called upon to perform. The 
removal and sepulture of unclaimed dead bodies, the 
cleansing of choultries, rest-houses and the like, where 
travellers carrying infectious diseases might have halted, 
and other gruesome duties are entrusted to him. In 
spite of all this, the Toti is one of the most trusted of 
the humbler servants of the village community. Con- 
sidering his humble status and emoluments, which 
average between Rs. 3 and Rs. 4 a month, his honesty 
with regard to pecuniary matters is wonderful. He 
may be trusted with untold wealth, as is often done 
when he is the sole custodian of the revenue collections 
of his village to the tune of several thousands at a time, 
when on their way from the collecting officers to the 
Government Treasury." Testimony is borne to the 
industry of the Toti in the proverb that if you work like 
a Toti, you can enjoy the comforts of a king. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Toti is re- 
turned as a sub-division of Chakkiliyan. The Toti of 
Mysore is defined by Mr. L. Rice t as a menial among 
the village servants, a deputy talari, who is employed 
to watch the crops from the growing crop to the 

Odiya Toti is a Tamil synonym for Oriya Haddis 
employed as scavengers in municipalities in the Tamil 

Tottiyan.— In the Census Report, 1901, Mr. 
W. Francis writes that the Tottiyans are " Telugu 

♦ Madras Mail, 1906. t Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer. 


cultivators. The Tottiyans or Kambalattans of the 
Tanjore district are, however, said to be vagrants, and to 
live by pig-breeding, snake-charming, and begging. So 
are the sub-division called Kattu Tottiyans in Tinnevelly. 
The headman among the Tinnevelly Tottiyans is called 
the Mandai Periadanakkaran or Servaikaran. Their 
marriages are not celebrated in their houses, but in 
pandals (booths) of green leaves erected for the purpose 
on the village common. However wealthy the couple 
may be, the only grain which they may eat at the wedding 
festivities is either cumbu {Pennisetum typhoideum) or 
horse-gram {Dolickos biflorus). The patron deities of 
the caste are Jakkamma and Bommakka, two women who 
committed sati. The morality of their women is loose. 
The custom of marrying boys to their paternal aunt's or 
maternal uncle's daughter, however old she may be, also 
obtains, and in such cases the bridegroom's father is said 
to take upon himself the duty of begetting children to his 
own son. Divorce is easy, and remarriage is freely 
allowed. They offer rice and arrack (alcoholic liquor) to 
their ancestors. The Kattu Tottiyans will eat jackals, 
rats, and the leavings of other people. Tottiya women 
will not eat in the houses of Brahmans, but no explana- 
tion of this is forthcoming. The men wear silver anklets 
on both legs, and also a bracelet upon one of the upper 
arms, both of which practices are uncommon, while the 
women wear bangles only on the left arm, instead of on 
both as usual. Some of the Zamindars in Madura belong 
to this caste. The caste title is Nayakkan." At the 
census, 1901, Kudulukkaran was returned as a sub-caste 
of the Tottiyans in Madura and Tinnevelly. The 
Urumikkaran, meaning those who play on the drum 
called urumi, are said to be Tottiyans in Madura and 
Paraiyans elsewhere. 


" The Tottiyans or Kambalattans," Mr. H. A. Stuart 
writes,* " are a caste of Telugu cultivators settled in 
the districts of Madura, Tinnevelly, Coimbatore and 
Salem. They are probably the descendants of poligars 
and soldiers of the Nayakkan kings of Vijayanagar, who 
conquered the Madura country about the beginning of the 
sixteenth century. As regards the origin of their caste, 
the Tottiyans say with pride that they are the descendants 
of the eight thousand gopastris (milkmaids) of Krishna — 
a tradition which seems to indicate that their original 
occupation was connected with the rearing and keeping 
of cattle. The most important sub-divisions are Kollar 
and Erkollar, the Tamil form of the Telugu Golla and 
Yerragolla, which are now shepherd castes, though 
probably they formerly had as much to do with cattle as 
sheep. Another large sub-division is Kille or Killavar, 
which I take to be a corruption of the Telugu kilari, 
a herdman. The bride and bridegroom, too, are always 
seated on bullock saddles. They do not wear the sacred 
thread. Most of them are Vaishnavites, some of whom 
employ Brahman priests, but the majority of them are 
guided by gurus of their own, called Kodangi Nayakkan. 
[It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, that 
caste matters used to be settled by the Mettu Nayakkan 
or headman, and a Kodangi Nayakkan, or priest, so 
called because he carried a drum.] Each family has its 
own household deity, which appears to be a sort of 
representation of departed relations, chiefly women who 
have burned themselves on the funeral pile of their 
husbands, or have led a chaste and continent life, or died 
vestals. Their girls are married after they have attained 
maturity. Adultery is no crime when committed within 

♦ Madras Census Report, 1891. 


the family circle, but a liaison with an outsider involves 
expulsion from the caste. It is said that their newly 
married girls are even compelled to cohabit with their 
husband's near relatives. [It is further said to be 
believed that ill-luck will attend any refusal to do so, 
and that, so far from any disgrace attaching to them in 
consequence, their priests compel them to keep up the 
custom, if by any chance they are unwilling.*] The 
pongu tree {Pongamia glabra) is the sacred tree of 
the caste. Suttee was formerly very common, and the 
remarriage of widows is discouraged, if not actually 
forbidden. The dead are generally burned. Both 
men and women are supposed to practice magic, and are 
on that account much dreaded by the people generally. 
They are especially noted for their power of curing 
snake-bites by means of mystical incantations, and the 
original inventor of this mode of treatment has been 
deified under the name Pambalamman. They are 
allowed to eat flesh. The majority speak Telugu in 
their houses." 

The traditional story of the migration of the Totti- 
yans to the Madura district is given in several of the 
Mackenzie manuscripts, and is still repeated by the 
people of the caste. " Centuries ago, says this legend, 
the Tottiyans lived to the north of the Tungabhadra 
river. The Muhammadans there tried to marry their 
women, and make them eat beef. So one fine night they 
fled southwards in a body. The Muhammadans pursued 
them, and their path was blocked by a deep and rapid 
river. They had just given themselves up for lost when 
a pongu (Pongamia glabra^ tree on either side of the 
stream leant forward, and, meeting in the middle, made 

♦ Manual of the Madura district. 


a bridge across it. Over this they hurried, and, as soon 
as they had passed, the trees stood erect once more, 
before the Mussulmans could similarly cross by them. 
The Tottiyans in consequence still reverence the pongu 
tree, and their marriage pandals (booths) are always 
made from its wood. They travelled on until they came 
to the city of Vijayanagar, under whose king they took 
service, and it was in the train of the Vijayanagar armies 
that they came to Madura." * 

The Tottiyans are most numerous in the Madura 
and Tinnevelly districts, and include two grades in the 
social scale. Of these, one consists of those who are 
engaged in cultivation, and petty Zamindars. The other 
is made up of those who wander about begging, and 
doing menial work. Between the two classes there is 
neither interdining nor intermarriage. In districts other 
than Madura and Tinnevelly, the name Tottiyan is 
applied by Tamil-speaking castes to the Jogis, who are 
beggars and pig breeders, and, like the Tottiyans, speak 
Telugu. The following legend is current, to account 
for the division of the Tottiyans into two sections. They 
once gave a girl in marriage to a Muhammadan ruler, 
and all the Tottiyans followed him. A large number 
went to sleep on one side of a river, while the rest crossed, 
and went away. The latter are represented today by the 
respectable section, and the begging class is descended 
from the former. To this day the Muhammadans and 
Tottiyans of the Trichinopoly district are said to address 
each other as if they were relations, and to be on terms 
of unusual intimacy. 

In the Madura district, the Tottiyans are apparently 
divided into three endogamous sections, viz., Vekkili, 

* Gazetteer of the Madura district. 


Thokala, and Yerrakolla, of which the last is considered 
inferior to the other two. Other names for the Vekkili 
section are Kambalattar, or Raja Kambalattar. In some 
places, e.g., in Tinnevelly, there seem to be six 
divisions, Thokala, Chilla or Silla, Kolla, Narasilla, 
Kanthikolla and Pala. Of these, Pala may intermarry 
with Chilla, but the other four are endogamous. As 
examples of exogamous septs occurring among the Yer- 
rakollas may be noted Chikala (broom), and Udama 
(lizard, Varamis), of which the latter also occurs as an 
exogamous sept of the Kapus. 

In the neighbourhood of Nellakota in the Madura 
district, the Yerrakollas have a group of seven septs 
called Revala, Gollavirappa, Kambli-nayudi, Karadi 
(bear), Uduma, Chila, and Gelipithi. Intermarriage 
between these is forbidden, as they are all considered as 
blood-relations, and they must marry into a group of 
seven other septs called Gundagala, Busala, Manni, 
Sukka, Alivirappa, Sikka, and Madha. The names of 
these septs are remembered by a system of mnemonics. 

In a note on the Tottiyans of the Trichinopoly 
district, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows. 
" Three endogamous sub-divisions exist in the caste, 
namely, the Erra (red) Gollas or Pedda Inti (big family), 
the Nalla (black) Gollas or Chinna Inti (small family), 
and the Valus, who are also called Kudukuduppai Totti- 
yans. The Valus are said to be a restless class of beg- 
gars and sorcerers. The red Gollas are, as a rule, fairer 
than the blacks (whence perhaps the names). The 
women of the former wear white cloths, while those of 
the latter do not. Again, they tie their hair in different 
ways, and their ornaments differ a good deal. The red 
women carry no emblem of marriage at all, while the 
black women wear the pottu. The reds allow their 


widows to remarry, but the blacks do not. Both sections 
have exogamous sections, called Kambalams — the reds 
fourteen, and the blacks nine. The reds are divided, 
for purposes of caste discipline, into nine nadus and the 
blacks into fourteen mandais. Each village is under a 
headman called the Ur-Nayakan, and each nadu or 
mandai under a Pattakaran. The former decide petty 
disputes, and the latter the more serious cases. The 
Pattakaran is treated with great deference. He is 
always saluted with clasped hands, ought never to look 
on a corpse, and is said to be allowed to consort with 
any married woman of the caste." 

The Tottiyans are supposed to be one of the nine 
Kambalam (blanket) castes, which, according to one 
version, are made up of Kappiliyans, Anappans, Totti- 
yans, Kurubas, Kummaras, Parivarams, Urumikkarans, 
Mangalas, and Chakkiliyans. According to another 
version, the nine castes are Kappiliyan, Anappan, Totti- 
yan, Kolla Tottiyan, Kuruba, Kummara, Medara, Odde, 
and Chakkiliyan. At tribal council-meetings, repre- 
sentatives of each of the nine Kambalams should be 
present. But, for the nine castes, some have substi- 
tuted nine septs. The Vekkiliyans seem to have three 
headmen, called Mettu Nayakan, Kodia Nayakan, and 
Kambli Nayakan, of whom the first mentioned is the 
most important, and acts as priest on various cere- 
monial occasions, such as puberty and marriage rites, 
and the worship of Jakkamma and Bommakka. The 
Kambli Nayakan attends to the purification of 
peccant or erring members of the community, in 
connection with which the head of a sheep or goat is 
taken into the house by the Kambli Nayakan. It is 
noted, in the Gazetteer of the Madura district, that 
•' persons charged with offences are invited to prove 


their innocence by undergoing ordeals. These are now 
harmless enough, such as attempting to cook rice in a 
pot which has not been fired, but Turnbull says that 
he saw the boiling oil ordeal in 18 13 in Pudukkottai 
territory. Perhaps the most serious caste offence is 
adultery with a man of another community. Turnbull 
says that women convicted of this used to be sentenced 
to be killed by Chakkiliyans, but nowadays rigid excom- 
munication is the penalty." 

The Kambalam caste is so called because, at caste 
council meetings, a kambli (blanket) is spread, on which 
is placed a kalasam (brass vessel) filled with water, and 
containing margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves, and 
decorated with flowers. Its mouth is closed by mango 
leaves and a cocoanut. 

A correspondent writes to me that " the Zamindars 
in the western parts of Madura, and parts of Tinnevelly, 
are known as Kambala Palayapat. If a man belongs 
to a Zamindar's family, he is said to be of the Raja 
Kambala caste. The marriage ceremony is carried out 
in two temporary huts erected outside the village, one 
for the bridegroom, the other for the bride. The tali is 
tied round the bride's neck by an elderly female or male 
belonging to the family. If the marriage is contracted 
with a woman of an inferior class, the bridegroom's hut 
is not made use of, and he does not personally take part 
in the ceremony. A dagger (kattar), or rude sword, is 
sent t£) represent him, and the tali is tied in the presence 

In a zamindari suit, details of which are published in 
the Madras Law Reports, Vol. XVII, 1894, the Judge 
found that the plaintiffs mother was married to the 
plaintiff's father in the dagger form ; that a dagger is 
used by the Saptur Zamindars, who are called Kattari 


Kamaya, in the case of inequality in the caste or social 
position of the bride ; that, though the customary rites 
of the Kambala caste were also performed, yet the use 
of the dagger was an essential addition ; and that, though 
she was of a different and inferior caste to that of the 
plaintiffs father, yet that did not invalidate the marriage. 
The defendant's argument was that the dagger was used 
to represent the Zamindar bridegroom as he did not 
attend in person, and that, by his non-attendance, there 
could have been no joining of hands, or other essential 
for constituting a valid marriage. The plaintiff argued 
that the nuptial rites were duly performed, the Zamindar 
being present ; that the dagger was there merely as 
an ornament ; and that it was customary for people of 
the Zamindar's caste to have a dagger paraded on 
the occasion of marriages. The Judge found that the 
dagger was there for the purpose of indicating that the 
two ladies, whom the Zamindar married, were of an 
inferior caste and rank. 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Madura 
district, that, when a Tottiyan girl attains maturity, 
" she is kept in a separate hut, which is watched by 
a Chakkiliyan. Marriage is either infant or adult. A 
man has the usual claim to his paternal aunt's daughter, 
and so rigorously is this rule followed that boys of 
tender years are frequently married to grown women. 
These latter are allowed to consort with their husband's 
near relations, and the boy is held to be the father of 
any children which may be born. Weddings last three 
days, and involve very numerous ceremonies. They 
take place in a special pandal erected in the village, on 
either side of which are smaller pandals for the bride and 
bridegroom. Two uncommon rites are the slaughtering 
of a red ram without blemish, and marking the foreheads 


of the couple with its blood, and the pursuit by the 
bridegroom, with a bow and arrow, of a man who 
pretends to flee, but is at length captured and bound. 
The ram is first sprinkled with water, and, if it shivers, 
this, as usual, is held to be a good omen. The bride- 
price is seven kalams of kumbu {Pennisetum typhoideuni)^ 
and the couple may eat only this grain and horse-gram 
until the wedding is over. A bottu (marriage badge) is 
tied round the bride's neck by the bridegroom's sister." 

Concerning the marriage ceremonies of the Yerra- 
kollas, I gather that, on the betrothal day, kumbu must 
be cooked. Food is given to seven people belonging 
to seven different septs. They are then presented with 
betel leaves and areca nuts and four annas tied in a cloth, 
and the approaching marriage is announced. On the 
wedding day, the bride and bridegroom are seated on 
planks on the marriage dais, and milk is sprinkled over 
them by people of their own sex. A few hours later, 
the bridegroom takes his seat in the pandal, whither the 
bride is brought in the arms of her maternal uncle. She 
sits by the side of the bridegroom, and the Mettu 
Nayakan links together the little fingers of the contract- 
ing couple, and tells them to exchange rings. This is 
the binding portion of the ceremony, and no bottu is 
tied round the bride's neck. At a marriage among the 
Vekkiliyans, two huts are constructed in an open space 
outside the village, in front of which a pandal is erected, 
supported by twelve posts, and roofed with leafy twigs 
of the pongu tree and Mimusops hexandra. On the 
following day, the bride and bridegroom are conducted 
to the huts, the bride being sometimes carried in the 
arms of her maternal uncle. They worship the ancestral 
heroes, who are represented by new cloths folded, and 
placed on a tray. The bridegroom's sister ties the bottu 


on the bride's neck inside her hut, in front of which 
kumbu grain is scattered. Betel and a fanam (coin) are 
placed in the bride's lap. On the third day the bride- 
groom is dressed up, and, mounting a horse, goes, 
accompanied by the marriage pots, three times round 
the huts. He then enters the bride's hut, and she is 
carried in the arms of the cousins of the bridegroom 
thrice round the huts. The contracting couple then sit 
on planks, and the cousins, by order of the Mettu 
Nayakan, link their little fingers together. They then 
enter the bridegroom's hut, and a mock ploughing 
ceremony is performed. Coming out from the hut, they 
take up a child, and carry it three times round the huts. 
This is, it is said, done because, in former days, the 
Tottiyan bride and bridegroom had to remain in the 
marriage huts till a child was born, because the Mettu 
Nayakan was so busy that he had no time to complete 
the marriage ceremony until nearly a year had elapsed. 

At a wedding among the nomad Tottiyans, a fowl is 
killed near the marriage (araveni) pots, and with its 
blood a mark is made on the foreheads of the bride and 
bridegroom on their entry into the booths. The Vek- 
kiliyans sacrifice a goat or sheep instead of a fowl, and 
the more advanced among them substitute the breaking 
of a cocoanut for the animal sacrifice. 

In connection with marriage, Mr. Hemingway writes 
that " the Tottiyans very commonly marry a young boy 
to a grown woman, and, as among the Konga Vellalas, 
the boy's father takes the duties of a husband upon 
himself until the boy is grown up. Married women are 
allowed to bestow their favours upon their husbands' 
relations, and it is said to be an understood thing that 
a man should not enter his dwelling, if he sees another's 
slippers placed outside as a sign that the owner of them 


is with the mistress of the house. Intercourse with men 
of another caste is, however, punished by expulsion, 
and widows and unmarried girls who go astray are 
severely dealt with. Formerly, it is said, they were 

At a Tottiyan funeral, fire is carried to the burning- 
ground by a Chakkiliyan, and the pyre is lighted, not 
by the sons, but by the sammandhis (relations by 

The Tottiyans of the Madura district observe the 
worship of ancestors, who are represented by a number 
of stones set up somewhere within the village boundaries. 
Such places are called male. According to Mr. 
Hemingway, when a member of the caste dies, some of 
the bones are buried in this shed, along with a coin, and 
a stone is planted on the spot. The stones are arranged 
in an irregular circle. The circles of the Yerrakollas 
are exceedingly simple, and recall to mind those of the 
Nayadis of Malabar, but without the tree. The stones 
are set up in an open space close to the burning-ground. 
When a death occurs, a stone is erected among the 
ashes of the deceased on the last day of the funeral 
ceremonies (karmandhiram), and worshipped. It is 
immediately transferred to the ancestral circle. The 
male of the Vekkiliyan section of the Tottiyans consists 
of a massive central wooden pillar, carved with male 
and female human figures, set up in a cavity in a round 
boulder, and covered over by a conical canopy supported 
on pillars. When this canopy is set in motion, the 
central pillar appears to be shaking. This illusion, it 
is claimed, is due to the power of the ancestral gods. 
All round the central pillar, which is about ten feet 
high, a number of stones of different sizes are set up. 
The central pillar represents Jakkamma and other 




remote ancestors. The surrounding stones are the 
representatives of those who have died in recent times. 
Like the Yerrakollas, the Vekkiliyans erect a stone on 
the karmandhiram day at the spot where the body was 
cremated, but, instead of transferring it at once to the 
ancestral circle, they wait till the day of periodical male 
worship, which, being an expensive ceremonial, may 
take place only once in twelve years. If the interval 
is long, the number of stones representing those who 
have died meanwhile may be very large. News of the 
approaching male worship is sent to the neighbouring 
villages, and, on the appointed day, people of all castes 
pour in, bringing with them several hundred bulls. 
The hosts supply their guests with fodder, pots, and 
a liberal allowance c-f sugar-cane. Refusal to bestow 
sugar-cane freely would involve failure of the object of 
the ceremonial. After the completion of the worship, 
the bulls are let loose, and the animal which reaches 
the male first is decorated, and held in reverence. Its 
owner is presented with cloths, money, etc. The 
ceremony may be compared with that of selecting the 
king bull among the Kappiliyans. 

Self-cremation is said * to have been " habitually 
practiced by Tottiya widows in the times anterior to 
British domination ; and great respect was always shown 
to the memory of such as observed the custom. Small 
tombs termed thipanjankovil (fire-torch temple) were 
erected in their honour on the high-roads, and at these 
oblations were once a year offered to the manes of the 
deceased heroines. Sati was not, however, compulsory 
among them, and, if a widow lived at all times a perfectly 
chaste and religious life, she was honoured equally with 

* Manual of the Madura district. 


such as performed the rite." It is noted, in the Gazetteer 
of the Madura district, that "sati was formerly very 
common in the caste, and the two caste goddesses, 
Jakkamma and Bommayya, are deifications of women 
who thus sacrificed themselves. Every four years a 
festival is held in their honour, one of the chief events 
in which is a bullock race. The owner of the winning 
animal receives a prize, and gets the first betel and nut 
during the feast. The caste god is Perumal, who is 
worshipped in the form of a curry-grinding stone. The 
story goes that, when the Tottiyans were fleeing to the 
south, one of their women found her grinding-stone so 
intolerably heavy that she threw it away. It, however, 
re-appeared in her basket. Thrown away again, it once 
more re-appeared, and she then realised that the caste 
god must be accompanying them." 

"The Tottiyans," Mr. Hemingway writes, "do not 
recognise the superiority of Brahmans, or employ them 
as priests at marriages or funerals. They are deeply 
devoted to their own caste deities. Some of these are 
Bommaka and Mallamma (the spirits of women who 
committed sati long ago), Vlrakaran or Viramati (a 
bridegroom who was killed in a fight with a tiger), 
Pattalamma (who helped them in their flight from the 
north), and Malai Tambiran, the god of ancestors. 
Muttalamma and Jakkamma are also found. Malai 
Tambiran is worshipped in the male. The Tottiyans 
are known for their uncanny devotion to sorcery and 
witchcraft. All of them are supposed to possess unholy 
powers, especially the Nalla Gollas, and they are much 
dreaded by their neighbours. They do not allow any 
stranger to enter their villages with shoes on, or on 
horseback, or holding up an umbrella, lest their god 
should be offended. It is generally believed that, if any 



one breaks this rule, he will be visited with illness or 
some other punishment." 

The Tottiyans have attached to them a class of 
beggars called Pichiga vadu, concerning whose origin 
the following legend is narrated. There were, once 
upon a time, seven brothers and a sister belonging to 
the Irrivaru exogamous sept. The brothers went on a 
pilgrimage to Benares, leaving their sister behind. One 
day, while she was bathing, a sacred bull (Nandi) left 
its sperm on her cloth, and she conceived. Her condi- 
tion was noticed by her brothers on their return, and, 
suspecting her of immorality, they were about to excom- 
municate her. But they discovered some cows in calf 
as the result of parthenogenesis, and six of the brothers 
were satisfied as to the girl's innocence. The seventh, 
however, required further proof. After the child was 
born, it was tied to a branch of a dead chilla tree 
{Strycknos potatorttm), which at once burst into leaf and 
flower. The doubting brother became a cripple, and his 
descendants are called Pichiga varu, and those of the 
baby Chilla varu. 

Traivarnika (third caste men). — Recorded, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as a section of Komatis 
(who claim to be Vaisyas, or members of the third caste 
of Manu), who follow the details of Brahmanical customs 
more scrupulously than the others. They are described, 
in the Vizagapatam Manual, as followers of the Rama- 
nuja faith, who deal chiefly in gold and silver, and 
ornaments made thereof. 

Triputa {Ipotn^a Turpethtim, Indian jalap). — A 
sept of Viramushti. 

Tsakala.— The Tsakalas, Sakalas, or Chakalas, 
who derive their name from chaku (to wash), are the 
washermen of the Telugu country, and also act as torch 


and palanquin bearers. In the Census Report, 1901, 
Tellakula (the white class) is given as a synonym. The 
Rev. J. Cain writes* that the " Tellakulavandlu are 
really washermen who, in consequence of having ob- 
tained employment as peons (orderlies) in Government 
offices, feel themselves to be superior to their old caste 
people. In their own towns or villages they acknowledge 
themselves to be washermen, but in other places they 
disclaim all such connection." It is noted in the Kurnool 
Manual (1886) that, in the Cumbum division, "they 
serve as palanquin-bearers, and are always at the mercy 
of Government officials, and are compelled to carry 
baggage for little or no wage. Some are Inamdars 
(landholders), while others work for wages. " 

The ordinary Tsakalas are called Bana Tsakala, in 
contradistinction to the Guna or Velama Tsakala. Bana 
is the Telugu name for the large pot, which the washer- 
men use for boiling the clothes, t The Guna Tsakalas 
are dyers. In a note on the Velamas, Mr. H. A. Stuart 
writes | that "some say they form a sub-division of the 
Balijas, but this they themselves most vehemently deny, 
and the Balijas derisively call them Guni Sakalavandlu 
(hunchbacked washermen). The pride and jealousy of 
Hindu castes was amusingly illustrated by the Velamas 
of Kalahasti. The Deputy Tahsildar of that town was 
desired to ascertain the origin of the name Guni 
Sakalavandlu, but, as soon as he asked the question, a 
member of the caste lodged a complaint of defamation 
against him before the District Magistrate. The nick- 
name appears to have been applied to them because in 
the northern districts some print chintz, and, carrying 
their goods in a bundle on their backs, walk stooping 

• Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879. t Ibid, 

X Manual of the North Arcot district. 


like a laden washerman. This derivation is more than 
doubtful, for, in the Godavari district, the name is Guna 
Sakalavandlu, guna being the large pot in which they 
dye the chintzes. " 

Like other Telugu castes, the Tsakalas have exoga- 
mous septs or intiperu, among which chimala (ant) is of 
common occurrence. Members of the gummadi sept 
do not cultivate, or eat the fruit of Cucurbita maxima 
(gummadi), and those of the magili pula gotra avoid 
the fruit of Pandanus fascicularis. In like manner, 
sword beans ( Canavalia ensiformis) may not be eaten by 
those who belong to the thamballa gotra. 

Among the sub-divisions of the caste are Reddi 
Bhumi (Reddi earth), Murikinati, Pakanati (eastern 
country), Desa, and Golkonda. Of these, some are also 
sub-divisions of other Telugu classes, as follows : — 

Desa or Desur Balija — Kapu. 

Murikinati or Murikinadu — Kamsala, Mangala, 
Mala and Razu. 

Pakanati — Balija, Golla, Kamsala, Kapu, and Mala. 

Reddi Bhumi — Mala, Mangala. 
At the census, 1891, Odde was recorded as a sub- 
division of the Tsakalas, and it is noted in the Vizaga- 
patam Manual (1869) that the Vadde or Odde Cakali 
wash clothes, and carry torches in that district. The 
name Odde Tsakala refers to Oriya-speaking washermen. 
Telugus call the Oriya country Odra or Odde desam and 
Oriyas Odra or Odde Vandlu. 

Like the Tamil Vannans, the Tsakalas prepare for 
various castes torches for processional or other ceremonial 
occasions, and the face cloth, and paddy piled up at the 
head of a corpse, are their perquisite. The Reddi Bhumi 
and other sub-divisions wash the clothes of all classes, 
except Malas and Madigas, while the Desa and Golkonda 


sub-divisions will wash for both Malas and Madigas, 
provided that the clothes are steeped in water, and not 
handed to them, but left therein, to be taken by the 
washerman. Every village has its families of washermen, 
who, in return for their services, receive an allowance of 
grain once a year, and may have land allotted to them. 
Whenever a goat or fowl has to be sacrificed to a deity, 
it is the privilege of the Tsakala to cut off the head, or 
wring the neck of the animal. When Kapu women go 
on a visit to a distant village, they are accompanied by a 
Tsakala. At a Kapu wedding, a small party of Kapus, 
taking with them some food and gingelly {Sesamum) oil, 
proceed in procession to the house of a Tsakala, in order 
to obtain from him a famework made of bamboo or 
sticks, over which cotton threads (dhornam) are wound, 
and the Ganga idol, which is kept in his custody. The 
food is presented to him, and some rice poured into his 
cloth. Receiving these things, he says that he cannot 
find the dhornam and idol without a torch-light, and 
demands gingelly oil. This is given to him, and the 
Kapus return with the Tsakala carrying the dhornam 
and idol to the marriage house. The Tsakala is asked 
to tie the dhornam to the pandal (marriage booth) or roof 
of the house, and he demands some paddy (unhusked 
rice) which is heaped up on the ground. Standing 
thereon, he ties the dhornam. At a Panta Kapu wed- 
ding, the Ganga idol, together with a goat and kavadi 
(bamboo pole), with baskets of rice, cakes, betel leaves 
and areca nuts, is carried in procession to a pond or 
temple. The washerman, dressed up as a woman, heads 
the procession, and keeps on dancing and singing till 
the destination is reached. At the conclusion of the 
ceremonial, he takes charge of the idol, and goes his 
way. Among the Panta Reddis of the Tamil country, 


the idol is taken in procession by the washerman, who 
goes to every Reddi house, and receives a present of 
money. At a wedding among the Tdigas (Telugu 
toddy-drawers), the brother of the bride is fantastically 
dressed, with margosa {Melia Azadirachta) leaves in 
his turban, and carries a bow and arrow. This kodangi 
(buffoon) is conducted in procession to the temple by a 
few married women, and made to walk over cloths spread 
on the ground by the village washerman. The cloth 
worn by a Kapu girl at the time of her first menstrual 
ceremony is the perquisite of the washerwoman. 

The tribal deity of the Tsakalas is Madivalayya, in 
whose honour a feast, called Mailar or Mailar Pandaga, 
is held in January immediately after the Pongal festival. 
Small models of pots, slabs of stone such as are used for 
beating the wet clothes on, and other articles used in 
their work, are made in rice and flour paste. After 
they have been worshipped, fruits, cooked vegetables, 
etc., are offered, and a sheep or goat is sacrificed. 
Some of its blood is mixed with the food, of which 
a little is sprinkled over the pots, stones, etc., used 
during washing operations. If this ceremonial was not 
observed, it is believed that the clothes, when boiling 
in the water pot, would catch fire, and be ruined. The 
festival, which is not observed by the Desa and Golkonda 
Tsakalas, lasts for five or seven days, and is a time of 

At the first menstrual ceremony, the maternal uncle 
of the girl has to erect a hut made of seven different 
kinds of sticks, of which one must be from a Strychnos 
Nux-vomica tree. The details of the marriage ceremony 
are very similar to those of the Balijas and Kammas. 
The distribution of pan-supari, and the tying of the dhor- 
nam to the pandal must be carried out by an assistant 


headman called Gatamdar. On the last day, a goat or 
sheep is sacrificed to the marriage pots. Liberal potations 
of toddy are given to those who attend the wedding. 

The Tsakalas have a caste beggar called Mailari, or 
Patam, because he carries a brass plate (patam) with the 
figure of a deity engraved on it. He is said to be a 

Tsalla or Challa (butter-milk). — An exogamous 
sept of Mala. 

Tsanda or Chanda (tax or subscription). — An 
exogamous sept of Kamma and Medara. 

Tulabharam. — In his description* of the Tula- 
bharam or Tulapurushadanam ceremony performed by 
the Maharajas of Travancore, Mr. Shungoony Menon 
explains that the latter word is a compound of three 
Sanskrit words, tula (scales), purusha (man), and danam 
(gift, particularly of a religious character). And he 
gives the following description of the ceremonial, for 
the performance of which a Tulamandapam is erected, 
wherein the scales are set up, and the weighing and other 
rites performed. On the eighth day "after worshipping 
and making offerings, the Maharaja proceeds to the 
Tulamandapam, where, in the south-east corner, he is 
sprinkled with punyaham water. Then he goes to the 
side room, where the 'nine grains' are sown in silver 
flower pots, where the acharya anoints him with nine 
fresh-water kalasas. Thence the Maharaja retires to the 
palace, changes clothes, wears certain jewels specially 
made for the occasion, and, holding the State sword 
in his right hand and the State shield in his left, he 
proceeds to the pagoda ; and, having presented a bull 
elephant at the foot of the great golden flagstaff, and 

• History of Travancore, 1878. 


silks, gold coins, jewels and other rich offerings in the 
interior, he walks round by the Sevaimandapam, and 
re-enters the Tulamandapam. He walks thrice round 
the scales, prostrates himself before it, bows before the 
priests and elderly relatives, and obtains their sanction 
to perform the Tulapurushadanam. He then mounts 
the western scale, holding Yama's and Surya's pratimas 
in his right and left hand respectively. He sits facing 
to the east on a circular heavy plank cut out of fresh 
jack-wood (Artocarpus integrifolia), and covered with 
silk. He repeats mantras (prayers) in this position. 
The opposite or eastern scale then receives the gold, 
both coined and in ingots, till it not only attains equality 
but touches the ground, and the scale occupied by the 
Maharaja rises high. The Maharaja then comes down, 
and, sitting facing to the east, places the gold, the 
Tulupurusha pratima and other pratimas, with flowers, 
sandal paste, etc., in a basin of water, and, meditating 
on Brahma or the Supreme Being, he offers the contents 
to Brahmans generically." Of the gold placed in the 
scale, one-fourth is divided among the priests who con- 
duct the ceremony, and the remaining three-fourths 
are distributed among Brahmans. For use in connec- 
tion with the ceremony, gold coins, called tulabhara 
kasu, are specially struck. They bear on one side the 
Malayalam legend Sri Padmanabha, and on the other a 
chank shell. 

In connection with the tulabharam ceremony as per- 
formed at the temple of Kali, the goddess of cholera and 
small-pox at Cranganore in the Cochin State, Mr, T. K. 
Gopal Panikkar writes as follows.* " When a man is 
taken ill of any infectious disease, his relations generally 

* Malabar and its Folk, Madras, 1900, 


pray to this goddess for his recovery, solemnly cove- 
nanting to perform what goes by the name of a thula- 
bharam ceremony. The process consists in placing the 
patient in one of the scale-pans of a huge balance, and 
weighing him against gold or more generally pepper 
(and sometimes other substances as well) deposited in 
the other scale-pan. Then this weight of the substance 
is offered to the goddess. This is to be performed 
right in front of the goddess in the temple yard." 

In connection with weighing ceremonies, it may be 
noted that, at Mulki in South Canara, there is a temple 
of Venkateswara, which is maintained by Konkani 
Brahmans. A Konkani Brahman, who is attached to 
the temple, becomes inspired almost daily between 10 
and 1 1 A.M. immediately after puja (worship), and people 
consult him. Some time ago, a rich merchant (a Baniya 
from Gujarat) consulted the inspired man (Darsana) as 
to what steps should be taken to enable his wife to be 
safely delivered. The Darsana told him to take a vow 
that he would present to the god of the temple silver, 
sugar-candy, and date fruits, equal in weight to that of 
his wife. This he did, and his wife was delivered of a 
male child. The cost of the ceremonial is said to have 
been five thousand rupees. 

Tulabina.— The Tulabinas are a class of cotton- 
cleaners, who are scattered over the Ganjam district, and 
said to be more numerous in Cuttack. It is suggested 
that the name is derived from tula, the beam of a 
balance, and bina (or vina) a stringed musical instrument. 
The apparatus used by them in cleaning cotton, which 
bears a fanciful resemblance to a vina, is suspended by a 
rope so that it is properly balanced, and the gut-string 
thereof struck with a dumb-bell shaped implement, to 
set it vibrating. 


Tulasi {Octmum sanctum, sacred basil). — A sub- 
division of Velama, and gotra of Komati. The tulsi 
plant is planted in Hindu houses and worshipped by 
women, and the wood is made into beads for rosaries. 

Tulukkar (Turks). — A Tamil name sometimes 
applied to Muhammadans. 

Tuluva. — Tulu, Tuluva, or Tuluvan occurs as the 
name of a sub-division of the Tamil Vellalas, and of the 
Agasas, Billavas, Gaudas, Kumbaras, and other classes 
in South Canara. The equivalent Tulumar is recorded 
as a sub-caste of Mavilan, which speaks Tulu. 

Concerning the Tuluva Vellalas, Mr, H. A. Stuart 
writes * that these are immigrants from the Tulu country, 
a part of the modern district of South Canara. Mr. 
Nelson is of opinion that these are the original Vellalas, 
who were invited to Tondamandalam after its conquest 
by the Chola king Adondai Chakravarti.f 

Tunnaran (tailor). — An occupational sub-division 
of Nayar. 

Tupakala.— Tupakala or Tupaki (gun) has been 
recorded as an exogamous sept of Balija, Kavarai, and 

Turaka.— Recorded as a sept of Kuruba. It is 
further a Telugu name sometimes applied to Muham- 
madans. There is also a thief class, known as Bhattu 
Turaka. {See Bhatrazu.) 

Turuvalar. — Recorded in the Salem Manual as a 
caste name, by which some of the Vedans call themselves. 
" The Turuvalar are distinguished as the Kattu- 
kudugirajati, a name derived from a custom among 
them which authorizes informal temporary matrimonial 

• Madras Census Report, 1891. f Manual of the Madura district. 

UDASI 206 

Udasi.— A few members of this Central India sect of 
religious mendicants and devotees have been returned at 
times of census. It is said to have been founded three 
hundred years ago by one Gopaldas. 

Udaiya.— Udaiya, meaning lord, is the title of many 
well-to-do Lingayats and of some Jains, and Udaiya or 
Wodeiyar occurs as the name of a Lingayat sub-division 
of the Badagas of the Niligiri hills. The Maharajas of 
Mysore belong to the Wodeiyar dynasty, which was 
restored after the Muhammadan usurpation of Haidar 
Ali and Tipu Sultan. The name of the present Maharaja 
is Sri Krishna Raja Wodeiyar Bahadur. 

Udaiyan.— It is noted in the Madras Census Report. 
1 89 1, that "the four Tamil castes Nattaman, Malaiman, 
Sudarman (or Suruthiman), and Udaiyan are closely 
connected. The last is probably a title rather than a 
caste, and is the usual agnomen of the Nattamans, 
Malaimans, and Sudarmans, as also of the potter caste 
(Kusavan). Nattaman means a man of the plains, 
Malaiman a man of the hills, and Sudarman one who 
does good, a hero. Nattampadi is another form of 
Nattaman. Tradition traces the descent of the three 
castes from a certain Deva Raja, a Chera king, who had 
three wives, by each of whom he had a son, and these 
were the ancestors of the three castes. There are other 
stories, but all agree in ascribing the origin of the castes 
to a single progenitor of the Chera dynasty. It seems 
probable that they are descendants of the Vedar soldiers 
of the Kongu country, who were induced to settle in the 
eastern districts of the Chera kingdom. Additional 
evidence of the important position they once held is 
afforded by the titles Pandariyar, Pandarattar (custodians 
of the treasury), which some of them still use. Some of 
them again are locally styled Poligars (Palayakkaran) by 


the ordinary ryots, and the title Kavalgar is not 

In a note on the Udaiyans, Malaiyamans, Nattamans, 
and Sudarmans of the Trichinopoly district, Mr. F. R. 
Hemingway writes as follows. " Though, in the 
Census Report, 1901, they are shown as separate castes, 
in this district they are endogamous sub-divisions 
of one and the same caste, namely the Udaiyans. The 
three sub-divisions are unanimous in saying that they 
are the descendants of the three Paraiyan foster-daughters 
of the poetess Auvaiyar, all of whom became the wives 
of the king of Tirukkoyilur in South Arcot, a certain 
Daivika, who was warned that only by marrying these 
women could he save his family from disaster. The 
Chola, Pandya, and Chera kings were present at the 
wedding, and, on their blessing the bridegroom and his 
brides, they were themselves blessed by the poetess, to 
whom the Chera kingdom owes its unfailing rain, the 
Chola country its rice fields, and the Pandyan realm its 
cotton. The poorness of the last blessing is due to the 
fact that the Pandya king was slow to offer his good 
wishes. The three sub-divisions eat together, and 
recognise the tie of a common descent, but do not 
intermarry. The section called Arisakkara Nattaman is 
looked down upon by the rest, and may not intermarry 
with any of them. All have well-defined exogamous 
sub-divisions, called kanis, derived from places where 
their different ancestors are supposed to have lived, e.g., 
Kolattur, Kannanur, Ariyalur. The Udaiyans put on 
sacred threads at marriages and funerals, and some of 
them have recently begun to wear them always. They 
are generally cultivators, and, with the exception of the 
Sudarmans, who are supposed to have a turn for crime, 
are law-abiding citizens. One section of the Sudarmans, 


the Muppans of Kapistalam in Tanjore, have a bad 
reputation for criminality. A curious practice is that, 
before arranging a marriage, it is customary for the bride's 
party to go to the bridegroom's house, to dine with him, 
and test his health by seeing how much he can eat. 
They allow a boy, whose suit for the hand of a girl within 
certain degrees of relationship is refused by her parents, 
to marry the girl, notwithstanding, by tying a tali 
(marriage emblem) round her neck. They also permit 
the betrothal of infants, the form observed being to pre- 
sent the child with a new cloth and a mat, and to apply 
sacred ashes to its forehead. At their funerals, the 
mourning party has to chew some rice and spit it out on 
the return from the burning-ground, and, on the sixteenth 
day, the widow is made to worship a light, and to touch 
a salt pot. The Nattaman women do not, as a rule, 
cover their breasts. The lobes of their ears are very 
distended, and they tattoo their chins and cheeks in the 
Paraiyan fashion. This is supposed to be in recollection 
of their origin. The Malaiyaman women wear their tali 
on a golden wire instead of on a thread." 

"The Udaiyans," Mr. Francis writes,* are a caste, 
which is specially numerous in South Arcot. Most of 
them are cultivators, and in Kallakurchi many are also 
money-lenders on a large scale. They adopt numerous 
different titles in an indiscriminate way, and four brothers 
have been known to call themselves respectively Nayak, 
Pillai, Mudali, and Udaiyan. They have three sub- 
divisions — Malaiyaman, Nattaman, and Sudarman — 
which all admit that they are descended from one 
common stock, will usually dine together, but do not 
intermarry. Some of the caste, however, are now turning 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 

209 udaiyan 

vegetarians, and these will not only not eat with the 
others, but will not let their girls marry them. They do 
not, nevertheless, object to their sons taking brides from 
the meat-eating classes, and thus provide an interesting, 
if small, instance of the (on this coast) uncommon practice 
of hypergamy. In all general matters the ways of the 
three sub-divisions are similar. Sudarmans are uncom- 
mon in this district, and are stated to be chiefly found in 
Trichinopoly and Tanjore. The Udaiyans say that the 
three groups are the descendants of a king who once 
ruled at Tirukkoyilur, the first of whom took the hilly 
part of his father's country, and so was called Malaiya- 
man ; the second the level tracts, whence his name 
Nattaman, and the third was the scholar of the family, 
and learned in the holy books (srutas), and so was called 
Sudarman. These Udaiyans are the caste from which 
were drawn some of the kavalgars (watchmen) who, in 
pre-British days, were appointed to perform police duties, 
and keep the country clear of thieves ; and some of the 
descendants of these men, who are known to their 
neighbours as poligars, and still have considerable local 
influence, are even now to be met with. The connection 
of the members of the caste with the Vepur (criminal) 
Paraiyans, which is of course confined to the less 
reputable sections among them, seems to have had its 
origin in the days when they were still head kavalgars, 
and these Paraiyans were their talaiyaris, entrusted, 
under their orders, with police duties in the different 
villages. It now consists in acting as receivers of the 
property these people steal, and in protecting them in 
diverse ways — finding and feeing a vakil (law pleader) 
for their defence, for instance — when they are in trotible 
with the police. It is commonly declared that their 
relations are sometimes of a closer nature, and that the 


wives of Veppur Paraiyans who are in enforced retire- 
ment are cared for by the Udaiyans. To this is popularly 
attributed the undoubted fact that these Paraiyans are 
often much fairer in complexion than other members of 
that caste." 

The village of Mangalam in the South Arcot district 
is •' chiefly interesting on account of its being the only 
village in the district where buffalo sacrifices on any 
scale are still regularly made. Buffaloes are dedicated 
to the Kali shrine in Mangalam even by persons in 
the Salem, Tanjore and Trichinopoly districts, and the 
village is commonly known as Maduvetti Mangalam, or 
buffalo-sacrificing Mangalam. When a man or any of 
his belongings gets seriously sick, he consecrates an 
animal to this shrine, and, if the illness ends favourably, 
it is sent to its fate at the temple on the date of the 
annual sacrifice (May-June). When the buffalo is 
dedicated, a piece of saffron-coloured cloth, in which is 
placed some small coin and a cadjan (palm) leaf con- 
taining an announcement of the dedication, is tied to 
its horns, and it is allowed to roam wherever it likes 
through the fields. On the day of the sacrifice, fourteen 
of the best of the animals which have been dedicated and 
brought to the temple are selected, and seven of them 
are tied to an equal number of stone posts in front of 
the goddess' shrine. The pujari (priest), who is an 
Udaiyan by caste, then walks down the line, and beheads 
them one after the other. The goddess is next taken 
round on a car, and, on her return to the temple, the 
other seven buffaloes are similarly killed. The animals 
which are not selected are sold, and the proceeds paid 
into the temple treasury. There are two images in 
the temple, one of Kali, and the other, which is placed 
at the back of the shrine, of Mangalayachi. The 


latter goddess does not approve of animal sacrifices, 
and, while the above ceremonies are proceeding, a 
blanket is hung in front of her so that she may not 
see them.'"* 

It is noted by Bishop Whitehead that, a few years 
ago, an untoward event occurred in connection with a 
Pidari festival at a village in the Trichinopoly district. 
" The festival had commenced, and the pujari had tied 
the kapu (cord dyed with turmeric) on his wrist, when a 
dispute arose between the trustees of the shrine, which 
caused the festival to be stopped. The dispute could 
not be settled, and the festival was suspended for three 
years, and, during all that time, there could be no 
marriages among the Udaya caste, while the poor pujari, 
with the kapu on his wrist, had to remain the whole of 
the three years in the temple, not daring to go out lest 
Pidari in her wrath should slay him." 

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, 
that *' the Nattamans say they originally settled in South 
Arcot, and then spread to Tanjore and Trichinopoly, and 
finally to Madura, and this theory is supported by the 
fact that they have fifteen exogamous sub-divisions called 
kanis or fields, which are all named after villages (e.g., 
Ariyalur, Puththur) in the first three of these districts. 
A man has a right to marry the daughter of his father's 
sister, and, if she is given to another man, the father's 
sister has to return to her father or brother the dowry 
which she received at the time of her marriage, and this 
is given to the man who had the claim upon the girl. 
The same custom occurs among the Kuravans and the 
Kalians. The eldest son in each family has to be named 
after the god of the village which gives its name to the 

* Gazetteer of the South Arcot district. 
vil-14 B 


kani or sept to which the family belongs, and the child 
is usually taken to that village to be named. Marriage 
is infant or adult. Widow marriage is forbidden. 
Brahmans are employed for ceremonies, but these are 
not received on terms of equality by other Brahmans. 
Both cremation and burial are practised. Vellalas will 
eat with Nattamans. The caste title is Udaiyan." 
Another title is Nayinar, which is also used by Pallis and 
Jains. There is a proverb " Nattumuththinal Nayinar ", 
i.e., when the Nattaman ripens, he is a Nayinar. At 
the census, 1901, some Nattamans returned themselves 
as Natramiludaiyan, meaning the repository of chaste 
Tamil ; and Ur-Udaiyan (lord of a village) was given as 
their caste name. Nattaman also occurs as a sub- 
division of the Pallis. 

Under the name Nattamadi, the Nattamans are 
described in the Tanjore Manual as " peasant population. 
Some are ryotwari land-holders in their own right and 
possess large estates. The word is derived from nattam, 
village, and is used in three forms, Nattamakkal, Nat- 
tamar, and Nattamadi. A considerable proportion are 
converts to the Roman Catholic religion, and, in the 
neighbourhood of Vallam, there are very few who profess 
any other faith." In the Madura Manual, the Nattamba- 
diyans are further described as being " usually respectable 
cultivators. They are said to have emigrated into the 
Madura country not more than about eight years ago. 
They are an interesting class of Tamils, inasmuch as very 
many of them have adopted the Roman Catholic faith 
under the leadership of the Jesuit missionaries. They 
are said to be a fine race physically ; finer even than the 
Vellalans. They are also called Udaiyans, and tradition 
says that they came from the Toreiyur nadu or district 
in Tanjore, from a village called Udeiyapaleiyam. They 

213 tJGRANI 

are chiefly resident in the great zamindaris, and contrast 
favourably with the Maravans, being very orderly, frugal, 
and industrious." 

I am informed that Nattaman women will do cooly 
work and carry food for their husbands when at work in 
the fields, but that Malaiman women will not do so. 

The Sudarmans are described, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as " cultivators chiefly found in the districts 
of Tanjore and Trichinopoly. They are imitating the 
Brahmans and Vellalas in their social customs, and some 
of them have left off eating meat, with the idea of raising 
themselves in general estimation ; but they nevertheless 
eat in the houses of Kalians and Idaiyans. Their title 
is Muppan." Some Sudarmans, I am told, have become 

Uddari.— A synonym for the village Taliyari. 

Uddu (Pkaseolus Mungo). — An exogamous sept of 

Udhdhandra.— A title conferred by Zamindars on 
some Kurumos. 

Uduma.— Uduma or Udumala, meaning the lizard 
VaranuSy has been recorded as an exogamous sept of 
Boya, Kapu, Tottiyan, and Yanadi. 

Ugrani.— A village servant in South Canara, 
appointed to watch the store-rooms (ugrana), e.cj., the 
village granary, treasury, or bhuta-sthana. In 1907, the 
powers of village policeman were conferred on the 
Ugrani, who now wears a brass badge on his arm, with 
the words Village Police in the vernacular engraved on 
it. It is the duty of the Ugrani to report the following 
to the village magistrate : — 

I. The commission of grave crimes, such as theft, 
house-breaking, robbery, dacoity, accidental deaths, 
suicides, etc. 


2. The existence of disputes in connection with 
landed property, likely to give occasion to any fight or 

3. The arrival of Fakirs, Bairagis, or other 
strangers in the village. 

4. The arrival or residence in the village of any 
person whom the villagers suspect to be a bad character. 

5. The commission of mischief in respect of any 
public property, such as roads, road avenues, bridges, 
cattle pounds. Government trees on unreserved lands, etc. 

Uliyakaran.-^A synonym, denoting menial servant, 
of Parivaram. 

Ulladan.— It is recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, that " the Ullatans and Nayatis are found 
in the low country, as well as on the hills. At a remote 
period, certain Ullata families from the plains settled 
themselves at Talpurakkotta near Sabarimala, and even 
to-day pilgrims to Sabarimala consider this place as 
sacred. In the low country, the offerings to the same 
deities as the Ullatans worship are offered by the Valans. 
Hence the Ullatans were called by them Kochchuvalans. 
The place near Sabarimala where they once dwelt is 
known as Kochuvalakkuti, or the cottage of the Koch- 
chuvalan. Most of these Ullatans have left this place 
for fear of wild beasts, and are now straying in the woods 
with no fixed abode. It is said that they are the 
descendants from a Nambutiri woman, who, on being 
proclaimed an outcast, said Ullatana, meaning that (the 
offence for which she was ostracised) is true. [Accord- 
ing to another derivation, the name is derived from ull, 
within, and otunnu, runs, and means one who runs away 
into the forest at the sight of a member of any of the 
higher castes.] They are good hunters, and experts in 
the collection of wax and other forest produce. A 


curious marriage custom, prevalent among them, is thus 
related by Dr. Day. ' A large round building is made 
of leaves, and inside this the bride is ensconced. All the 
eligible young men of the village then assemble, and 
form a ring round this hut. At a short distance sits the 
girl's father or the nearest male relative with tom-tom in 
his hands, and a few more musical instruments complete 
the scene. Presently the music begins. The young 
men, each armed with a bamboo, commence dancing round 
the hut, into which each of them thrusts his stick. This 
continues about an hour, when the owner of whichever 
bamboo she seizes becomes the fortunate husband of the 
concealed bride. A feast then follows.'* They subsist 
chiefly on fruits, wild yams, and other forest products, 
and eke out a wretched existence. When armed with 
guns, they make excellent sportsmen." 

It is noted by the Rev. S. Mateer f that the Ulladans 
" subsist chiefly on wild yams, arrowroot, and other 
esculents, which they find in the jungle, and for the 
grubbing up of which they are generally armed with a 
long pointed staff. They also further enjoy the fruits of 
the chase, and are adepts in the use of the bow and 
arrow. The arrow they use has an iron spear-head, and 
an Ulladan has been known to cut a wriggling cobra in 
half at the first shot. They were claimed as the property 
of celebrated hill temples, or great proprietors, who 
exacted service of them, and sometimes sold their services 
to Nairs, Syrians, and others. A few Ulladans in the 
low country say they or their fathers were stolen in 
childhood, and brought down as slaves." 

At Kottayam in Travancore, I came across a party 
of Ulladans carrying cross-bows. These were said to be 

Cf. Nayadi. f Native Life in Travancore, 1883. 


used for catching fish in rivers, lagoons, and tanks. The 
arrow is between two and three feet in length, and has 
an iron hook at one end. Attached to it is a thin but 
strong string, one end of which is tied to the hook, while 
the other end passes through a small hole in the wooden 
part of the arrow, and is fastened to the cross-bar of the 
bow. This string is about thirty feet in length, and 
serves not only to drag the captured fish out of the water, 
and land it, but also to prevent the arrow from being 
lost. The origin of the cross-bow, which I have not 
found in the possession of any other tribe, puzzled me 
until the word Firingi was mentioned in connection with 
it. The use of this word would seem to indicate that the 
cross-bow is a survival from the days of the Portuguese 
on the west coast, Firingi (a Frank) or Parangi being 
used by Natives for European or Portuguese. 

For the following note on the Ulladans of the Cochin 
State, I am indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna 
Iyer.* " Their huts are situated in the forest of the plains, 
by the side of paddy (rice) flats, or in cocoanut gardens 
remote from those of the members of the higher castes. 
Only Christian Moplahs are found in the neighbourhood. 
Their huts are erected on short bamboo posts, the roof 
and four sides of which are covered with plaited cocoanut 
leaves. A bamboo framework, of the same leaves, serves 
the purpose of a door. A few plaited cocoanut leaves, 
and a mat of their own weaving, form the only furniture, 
and serve as beds for them at night. Their vessels in 
domestic use consist of a few earthen pots for cooking 
and keeping water in, and a few shallow earthen dishes, 
from which they drink water, and take their food. Some 
large pieces of the bark of the areca palm, containing 

• Monograph, Eth. Surrey, Coehin, No. 9, 1906. 

2 1 7 ULLADAN 

salt, chillies, etc., were also seen by me. What little 
they possess as food and clothing is placed in small 
baskets suspended from the framework of the roof by 
means of wooden hooks. 

" The caste assembly consists of the elderly members 
of the caste. There is a headman, who is called Muppan, 
and he has an assistant who is known as Ponamban. 
The headman has to preside at all marriage and funeral 
ceremonies, and to decide all disputes connected with the 
caste. The caste assembly meets chiefly to deal with 
cases of immorality. The guilty parties are summoned 
before the assembly. The headman, who presides, 
inquires into the matter, and, in the event of the accused 
parties confessing their guilt, they are taken before His 
Highness the Raja, who is informed of the circumstances. 
The male culprit is sometimes beaten or fined. The 
woman is given some water or the milk of a green 
cocoanut, and this is supposed to set her free from all sin. 
When a fine is imposed, it is sometimes spent on the 
purchase of toddy, which is shared among the castemen 
present. The headman gets a few puthans (Cochin 
coins) for his trouble. 

" In religion, the Ulladans are pure animists or demon 
worshippers. All cases of sickness, and other calamities, 
are attributed to the malignant influence of demons, 
whom it is necessary to propitiate. They worship 
Kappiri, Thikutti, and Chathan, all of whom are repre- 
sented by a few stones placed under a thatched roof 
called kottil. Offerings of rice flour, sheep, fowls, toddy, 
rice, cocoanuts and plantains, are given on Fridays in 
the month of Kanni (September-October). One of the 
castemen acts as Velichapad (oracle), and speaks as if by 
inspiration. He also casts out demons from the bodies 
of women who are believed to be influenced by them. 


When he resumes his former self, he takes half the 
offerings to himself, allowing the other half for dis- 
tribution among the bystanders. They also worship 
the spirits of the departed members of their families, 
who, they think, sometimes appear to them in dreams, 
and ask them for whatever they want. They believe 
that, in the event of their neglecting to give what is 
asked, these spirits will cause serious calamity to their 


" The Ulladans generally bury their dead in special 
places called chotala, but some of them bury the corpse 
a few yards away from their huts. The young are buried 
deep in the ground, while the old ones are buried not so 
deep. The dead body is placed on a new piece of cloth 
spread on a bamboo bier, which is carried by the relatives 
to the grave-yard. The castemen of the neighbourhood, 
including the relations and friends of the deceased, 
accompany the bier to the burial-ground, and return 
home after bathing. The members of the family fast 
for the night. They observe pollution for fifteen days, 
and, on the morning of the sixteenth day, the Thalippan 
(barber priest) comes and cleans the huts and its sur- 
rounding, and sprinkles cow-dung mixed with water on 
the members of the family as they return from bathing, 
in order that they may be freed from pollution. They 
entertain their castemen on that day. It is a custom 
among the Ulladans, Pulayas, and other low classes, 
that, when they are invited to a feast, they bring with 
them some rice, curry stuffs, toddy, or a few annas to 
meet the expenses of the feast. Very often the above 
articles are obtained as a gift from the charitably disposed 
members of the higher castes. At the end of the year, 
a similar feast is given to the castemen. Among the 
Ulladans, the nephew is the chief mourner, for he usually 


succeeds to the property of the dead, and proves his 
right of ownership by acting as the chief mourner. 

" The Ulladans on the sea-coast make boats, and cut 
timber. Their brethren in the interior gather honey, 
and collect minor forest produce, and sell it to contrac- 
tors. During the agricultural season, they engage in 
every kind of agricultural work, such as ploughing, 
sowing, transplanting, reaping, etc. They also graze 
the cattle of the farmers. They get a few annas worth 
of paddy (unhusked rice) for their labour. For most of 
the months in the year they are in a half-starving condi- 
tion, and resort to eating wild roots, and animals, which 
they can get hold of {e.g., rats, tortoises, fish, or croco- 
diles). They know where rats are to be found. They 
thrust a long stick into their holes, moving it so violently 
as to kill them there, or forcing them to come out, when 
they catch and kill them. Very often in the rural parts, 
both men and women are found with long poles ready to 
be thrust into any holes there may be by the side of a 
fence, or where bamboos are growing luxuriantly. They 
also catch crocodiles. They place the carcase of a fowl, 
sheep, or other animal, on the bank of a canal, or by the 
side of a tank where crocodiles are to be found. Into it 
is thrust a pointed piece of iron, fastened to a long cord. 
When a crocodile comes out of the water to eat it, or 
tries to get away with it, the piece of iron is fixed firmly 
into its mouth, upon which the Ulladans, who are watch- 
ing, approach and kill it with their clubs and knives. 
They catch fish by means of bait, and by poisoning the 
water. They are also very skilful in spearing fish swim- 
ming near the surface. They are more trackers of game 
than hunters, and very often accompany Moplahs, who 
go out hunting to provide themselves with meat of all 
kinds for feasts during their weddings. The Ulladans 

ULLl ^20 

are engaged only as beaters. For this service, they are 
given meals during the wedding, in addition to three 
annas worth of paddy for each beater. They are armed 
with clubs, and seldom go with dogs, fearing that they 
may drive away the game. When any animal is killed 
in hunting, the right side of the back of the animal goes 
to the Government. It is given to the Forest Officer, 
who auctions it, and the money obtained is sent to the 
taluk treasury. The left side of the back goes to the 
member of the party who shoots the animal. He also 
gets the face with the tongue. The headman among 
the Ulladans also gets a share. The remainder of the 
carcase is equally divided among the members who have 
formed the party. Should any dispute arise regarding 
the division of the game, the man who shoots the animal 
is entrusted with the settlement of the dispute, and his 
decision is final. In cases where the hunting party is 
organised by the Moplahs, the Ulladans get wages and 
meals for their trouble. In places where elephant pits are 
dug, hunting is forbidden. 

"As regards their social status, the Ulladans, like 
the Nayadis, form the Chandalas of the plains. Their 
approach to within a radius of sixty-four feet pollutes 
Brahmans, and all higher castes, including the Sudras 
(Nayars). The Ulladans cannot walk along the public 
roads, or come to the bazaars. Nor can they approach 
the precincts of any town or locality where the members 
of higher castes reside. The Pulayas and Parayas pro- 
fess to be polluted by them. It is curious to note that 
the Ullada women consider it degrading to go to work 
like the Pulaya woman. They say that their husbands 
have to provide for them." 

Ulli (onions or garlic). — A sub-division of the Tigala 
market-gardeners. The equivalent Ullipoyala occurs as 

221 UNNI 

an exogamous sept of Golla, and Ulligadda as a sept of 
Boyaand Korava. 

Ulumban.— It is recorded in the Gazetteer of 
Malabar that " an endogamous sub-caste (of Nayars) of 
foreign origin are the Ulumbans or cowherds. According 
to one tradition, they were originally immigrants from 
Dvaraka (Guzerat). Their original occupation still sur- 
vives in the privileges of supplying ghee (clarified butter) 
for the abhishegam or libation at the great annual festival 
at the jungle shrine of Kottiyur, and of supplying butter- 
milk to the Tiruvangad temple at Tellicherry, which are 
exercised by families of this caste ; and in the general 
privilege of offering milk in any temple without previous 

Uluvala (seeds of horse-gram : Dolichos biflorus). — 
An exogamous sept of Boya and Jogi. 

Ungara.-^Ungara and Ungarala, meaning rings, 
have been recorded as exogamous septs of Balija and 

Unittiri.— Unittiri, or Unyatiri, meaning, it is said, 
venerable boy, has been recorded as a sub-division of 
Samantam. Unnittan appears, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a title of Nayars, and is said to be 
derived from unni, small, tan, a title of dignity. 

Unnekankana.— A sub-division of Kurubas, who 
tie a woollen thread (unne kankana) round the wrist at 
times of marriage. 

Unni.— For the following note on the Unnis of 
Travancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. 
The word Unni, whatever its significance may have been 
of old, at present forms the common title of four castes 
of the Ambalavasi group, whose manners and custom 
differ considerably in their details. They are known, 
respectively, as Pushpakans, Brahmanis, Tiyattunnis, 

UNNI 222 

and Nattu Pattars, their social precedence being in this 
order. Pushpakan comes from pushpa, which in Sans- 
krit means either a flower or menses. Brahmanis, more 
vulgarly known as Pappinis, are so named because they 
perform some of the priestly functions of the Brahmans 
for the Sudra population of Travancore. Tiyattunnis, 
also known as Taiyampatis in British Malabar, are so 
called from the peculiar religious service they perform 
in some Hindu temples. Nattu Pattars are also known 
as Pattar Unnis and Karappuram Unnis. Unni means 
a child, and is used as an honorific term to denote the 
male children of a Nambutiri's household. The reason 
why these Ambalavasi castes came to be so called was 
that they were looked upon as more respectable than the 
Nayars, by whom the term must doubtless have been 
made use of at first. The Pushpakans are said to be 
divided into three classes, namely Pushpakans, Nambi- 
assans, and Puppallis. The first section live only as far 
south as Evur in Central Travancore, and are called 
Nambiyars in the north. The Nambiyassans live in 
Cochin and North Travancore, while the Puppallis 
are found only towards the south. There are no sub- 
divisions among the Brahmanis and Karappuramunnis. 
But the Tiyattunnis are divided into two classes, namely 
the Tiyatinambiyans of the north, who are generally 
employed in the temples of Sastha, and Tiyattunnis 
proper, who perform a similar function in the shrines of 
Bhadrakali. Women are also known as Atovaramma- 
mar and Kovillammamar. 

Pushpakans are said to have arisen out of the 
union of a Brahman woman in her menses with her 
husband. Parasurama set them apart, and gave them 
the occupation of making garlands in the temples of 
Malabar. Though this derivation is given in the 

223 UNNI 

Keralamahatmya, it may be more easily believed that 
Pushpakan is derived from the occupation of working 
in flowers. Puppalli, at any rate, is thus derived, and, 
as Palli signifies anything sacred, the caste name arose 
from the occupation of preparing garlands for deities. 
Nambiyassans, called also Nambiyars and Nambis, must 
have been, as also the Puppallis and Brahmanis, one 
with the Pushpakans. In some places, Nambiyassans 
are known to have kept gymnasia and military 
training schools. The Brahmanis must have undergone 
some degree of degradation because of the religious 
songs which they sang during the marriages of the 
Nayars, while those who did not take part therein 
became, as it were, a separate sept. Another tradition, 
accounting for the origin of the caste, is that, as in 
primitive ages early marriages prevailed among the 
Malayala Brahmans, the family of the Nambutiri 
who first married his daughter after puberty was 
excommunicated, and gave origin to the Pushpakas. 
This is untrue, as, in Vedic times, adult marriage was the 
rule, and the Nambutiris in this respect have been 
known to follow a more primitive custom than the 
Brahmans of the east coast. The Tlyattunnis are said 
to be the descendants of a Bhuta or demon directed by 
Siva to sing songs in praise of Bhadrakali, and appease 
her anger after the murder of Darika. They must from 
the first have formed a distinct section of the Ambala- 
vasis. The Karappuram Unnis are supposed to have 
been elevated to their present status by Cheraman 
Perumal, one of the rulers of ancient Kerala, as, though 
belonging to the Sudra caste, they were obliged on one 
occasion to perform Brahmanical service for him. Peru- 
mal is believed to have permitted them to take the title 
of Unni, and call themselves Pattar, by which name 

UNNI 224 

East Coast Brahmans are known in Malabar. Thus they 
came to own the three names Nattu Pattar, Pattar Unni, 
and Karappuram Unni, Karappuram or Shertallay being 
the territory where the sept received the above-mentioned 
social elevation from their sovereign. Even now, many 
of them reside in the taluks of Ambalapuzha and 

The house of a Pushpaka is variously known as 
pushpakam, pumatum, or padodakam, the last signifying 
a place where the water falls from the feet of the deity, 
on account of its close proximity to the temple, where 
the daily avocation of the Pushpaka lies. The houses 
of the Tiyattunnis and Nattu Pattars are only known 
by the name of bhavanam. As in the case of the 
Brahmans, the Pushpanis and Brahmanis cover their 
bodies with a piece of cloth, carry an umbrella, and are 
accompanied by Nayar servant-maids when they go 
out in public. The women have one more fold in their 
dress than the Nambutiris. The neck ornament of 
women is the cherutali-kuttam, and the ear ornament 
the katila. Bell-metal bangles are worn round the 
wrists. Female Tiyattunnis and Nattu Pattars do not 
wear the last, and are generally unaccompanied by Nayar 
servant-maids when they go out. 

Pushpakans are believed to be the most fitting caste 
for the preparation of flower garlands to be used in 
temples. They also assist in the preparation of the 
materials for the daily offering. Nambiyassans were 
instructors in arms in days of old, and kalari or gymna- 
sia are owned by them even at the present day. Their 
punyaha, or purificatory ceremony after pollution, is per- 
formed by Pushpakans. Brahmani women sing religious 
songs on the occasion of marriage among all castes from 
Kshatriyas to Nayars. In Kumaranallur and other 

225 UNNI 

BhagavatI shrines, women are employed to sing propitia- 
tory songs, while the men make garlands, sweep the floor 
of the inner court-yard and plinth, clean the temple 
vessels, and carry the lamp when images are taken round 
in procession. It is only the first of these temple ser- 
vices that the Pushpakas do, and their women never go 
out to sing on marriage occasions. The word Tlyattu 
or Teyyatu is said to be a corruption of Daivamattu, or 
dancing to please the deity. According to one tradition, 
they were degraded from Pushpakas for undertaking 
service in the temples. In more orthodox times, tiyattu 
could be performed only in temples and Brahman houses, 
but now Sudras also share the privilege of inviting the 
Tiyattunnis to their homes for this purpose, though the 
ceremony cannot be performed in their houses without a 
previous punyaha. The rite is extremely popular when 
epidemic disease prevails. Ganapati and Bhadrakali are, 
as a preliminary measure, worshipped, to the accompani- 
ment of musical instruments. As this has to be done in 
the noon, it is called uchchappattu, or noon-day song. 
In the evening, an image of Bhadrakali is drawn on the 
ground with powders of five colours, white, yellow, black, 
green and red. At night, songs are sung in praise of 
that deity by the Tiyattunni and his followers. A mem- 
ber of the troupe then plays the part of Bhadrakali in the 
act of murdering the demon Darika, and, in conclusion, 
waves a torch before the inmates of the house, to ward 
off the evil eye, which is the most important item in the 
whole ceremony. The torch is believed to be given by 
Siva, who is worshipped before the light is waved. 

The Karappuram Unnis, unlike the other septs of 

their class, are mostly- agriculturists. The Unnis are 

all Smartas, but a partiality for Bhadrakali is manifested 

by the Tiyattunnis and Brahmanis. All social matters 


UNNI 226 

among the Unnis are superintended by Nambutiri 
Brahmans, but, in all that directly touches the social well- 
being, their own headmen are the judges. Before 
entering a Pushpaka's house for the observation of any 
ceremony, the Nambutiris insist upon the performance 
of punyaha. Though the superiority of Ilayatus is 
acknowledged, they are never employed by the Pushpakas 
for priestly functions. The Ilayatus are believed to 
have once been the priests of the Nattu Pattars, though 
at the present time learned men from their own sept 
are employed for this purpose. The punyaha is, how- 
ever, performed through the agency of Nambutiris. The 
priests of the Nambiyassans, Tiyattunnis, and Brahmanis 
are Ilayatus. 

Adult marriage prevails, twelve being the earliest 
age of a girl when she ceases to be single. On the 
evening of the day before the wedding, the bride has a 
ceremonial bath, and performs the ceremony of growing 
a jasmine shoot, the flowers of which she should cull and 
present as an offering to the deity. On the marriage 
day, the bridegroom's party arrives in procession at the 
house of the bride, who awaits them with her face 
covered, and holding a brass mirror and garland of flowers 
in her hands. Her veil is removed, and the contracting 
couple gaze at each other. At the auspicious hour their 
hands are joined, and other items of the marriage rites 
carried out. In connection with a Pushpaka marriage, 
ammana attam or tossing of metal balls, kaikottikali 
or the circular dance, and yatrakali are among the 
amusements indulged in. Divorce was common among 
the Pushpakas in bygone days, but, at the present 
time, the marriage tie is usually permanent, and it is 
only after the first husband's death that cloths may 
be received from a Malaysia Brahman in token of 

227 UNNI 

sambandham (alliance). The Brahmanis, however, have 
not given up the practice of divorce. Nambiyassans, 
Puppallis, Pattar Unnis, and Brahmanis follow the 
marumakkattayam system of inheritance (through the 
female line), while the Pushpakas and Tiyattunnis are 
makkattayis, and follow the law of inheritance from father 
to son. The offspring of a Brahmani by a Pushpaka 
woman are regarded as issue in a makkattayam family. 
As is the custom among the Nambutiris, only the eldest 
son marries, the other sons remaining as snatakas, and 
contracting alliances with Nayar women. The Illam 
Nayars, however, do not give their daughters to the 

The jatakarma, though not strictly proper, is ob- 
served in modern days. The namakarana takes place, 
along with the annaprasana, in the sixth month after 
birth. The chaula is performed in the third year, 
though, among the Nattu Pattars, it is a preliminary 
ceremony before upanayana. The proper time for the 
performance of the upanayana is between the eighth 
and sixteenth year. Samavartana takes place on the 
fourteenth day after upanayana. Pollution lasts for only 
ten days among the Tiyattunnis, whereas the Brahmanis 
observe twelve, and the Nattu Pattars thirteen days' 
pollution. Ten gayatris (hymns) are allowed to be recited 
thrice daily. 

The Pushpakas are the highest of the thread- 
wearing sections of the Ambalavasis, according to 
their traditional origin as well as their religious and 
social practices. The Pattar Unnis are the lowest, and 
are only a step higher than the Kurukkals. Consecrated 
water and flowers are not given to them directly by the 
temple priest, but they may stand on the right side of 
the stone steps leading to the inner shrine. This is the 

▼II-I5 B 


rule with all Ambalavasi divisions. Other Ambalavasis 
do not receive food from the Unnis. These sections of 
the Unnis which have Ilayatus for their priests accept 
food from them. As the Pushpakas proper employ- 
only Nambutiris for purificatory purposes, the latter 
freely cook food in their houses, as in those of the 

It is recorded by Mr. Logan* that the Tiyattunnis 
or Tiyadis (ti, fire ; attam, play) are " a class of pseudo- 
Brahmans in Malabar, who derive their name from the 
ceremony of jumping through fire before temples." 
Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes, in this connection, that 
" I do not think Mr. Logan is quite right when he 
describes the service of the Tiyattunnis as jumping 
through fire. It is dancing with lighted wicks in the 
hands, to exorcise the genius representing the evil eye, 
or as a propitiatory service in temples. It answers to 
the pallippanna and kolantullal of the Kaniyans. A 
figure of Bhadrakali is drawn on the ground with 
powders of different colours, and the chief incidents 
in the incarnate life of the deity are recited by the 
Tiyattunnis. After this, some cocoanuts are broken in 
two, and lighted wicks are then placed before the 
presiding deity if done in a temple as a propitiatory 
service, or before any particular individual or individuals, 
if the object is to free him or them from the effect of the 
evil eye." 

Uppalavar (salt workers). — A synonym of Alavan. 

Uppara.— For the following note, I am mainly 
indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. Uppiliyan, 
Uppara, Uppara or Uppaliga, are different names for 
a class of people, who followed the same professional 

* Marm^l of the Malabar district. 


occupation, the manufacture of salt (uppu), in various 
parts of Southern India. The Uppiliyans Hve in the 
Tamil country, and speak Tamil ; the Upparas in the 
Telugu country, and speak Telugu ; while the Upparas 
inhabit the Mysore province and the districts border- 
ing thereon, and speak Canarese. The Upparas are 
described by Mr. H. A. Stuart* as "a caste of tank- 
diggers and earth-workers, corresponding to the Uppi- 
liyans of the Tamil districts. They resemble greatly the 
Oddes (Voddas or Wudders) in appearance, customs, and 
manner of earning a living. Their traditional occupation 
is, as the name implies, manufacturing earth-salt. They 
profess to be Saivites and Vaishnavites, but practically 
worship village deities, e.g., Sunkalamma, Timmappa, 
and Jambulamma." k is possible that the Uppiliyans, 
Upparas, and Upparas were originally a homogeneous 
caste, the members of which, in course of time, migrated 
to different parts of the country, and adopted the 
language of the locality in which they settled. The 
causes, which may have led to the breaking up of the 
caste, are not far to seek. The original occupation 
thereof, according to the legendary story of its origin, 
was tank, channel, and well digging. Southern India 
depended in days gone by, as at the present time, 
mainly on its agricultural produce, and people were 
required, then as now, to secure, conserve, and distribute 
the water, which was essential for agricultural prosperity. 
Inscriptions, such as those quoted by Mr. V. Venkayya,t 
bear testimony to the energy displayed by former 
rulers in Southern India in having tanks, wells, and 
irrigation channels constructed. Uppiliyans, Upparas 
or Upparas, are, at the present day, found all over the 

♦ Manual of the North Arcot district. 

t Archeeolog : Survey of India. Annual Report, 1902-1903. 


Madras Presidency, from Ganjam in the north to 
Tinnevelley in the south. From early times they seem 
to have, in addition to the work already indicated, been 
engaged in bricklaying, house-building, the construction 
of forts, and every kind of earth-work. 

Writing concerning the Telugu Upparas at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, Buchanan states * 
that "their proper occupation is the building of mud 
walls, especially those of forts." A very important 
occupation of these people was the manufacture of earth- 
salt and saltpetre, of which the latter was an important 
ingredient in the manufacture of gunpowder, " Through- 
out India," Dr. G. Oppert writes,t " saltpetre is found, 
and the Hindus are well acquainted with all its proper- 
ties ; it is even commonly prescribed as a medicine. 
India was famous for the exportation of saltpetre, and is 
so. The Dutch, when in India, traded especially in this 

The Uppiliyans say that they are descended from a 
man who was created to provide salt for the table of 
their god, but lost the favour of the deity because his 
wife bartered the salt for some glass bangles. In his 
wrath he put his wife into the oven to kill her, but she 
escaped through a hole in the back. As evidence of the 
truth of the story, they point to the facts that their 
women wear no glass bangles, and that their ovens 
always have a hole in them. The caste further traces its 
descent from a mythical individual, named Sagara, to 
whom is ascribed the digging of the Bay of Bengal. His 
story is narrated in the Vishnu Purana, J and is briefly as 

* Journey through Mysore, Canara and Malabar. Ed., 1807. 
+ On the Weapons, Army Organization, and Political Maxims of the Ancient 
Hindus, with special reference to gunpowder and fire-arms, Madras, 1880. 

X Vids F. Hall's edition of H. H. Wilson's Vishnu Purana, 1864. III. 289-303. 


follows. Sagara was son of Bahu, who was overrun by 
the Haihayas and Talajanghas, and consequently retired 
to the forest, where, near the hermitage of Muni Aurva, 
one of his queens conceived. A rival queen poisoned 
her, so as to prevent her from being delivered of the 
child. Meanwhile, Bahu waxed old, and his pregnant 
wife prepared to ascend the funeral pyre with him. But 
the Muni forbade her, saying that she was going to be 
the mother of an universal emperor. She accordingly 
desisted from the desperate act, and a splendid boy was 
born, and the poison expelled along with him. The 
Muni, on this account, gave him the name of Sagara, 
meaning with poison. As he grew up, the boy came to 
know of the troubles of his father, and resolved to recover 
his kingdom. He put to death nearly the whole of 
the Haihayas, and made the others acknowledge his 
suzerainty. He had two wives, by one of whom he had 
a son named Asamanja, and by the other sixty thousand 
sons. He subsequently performed the asvamedha or 
sacrifice of a horse, which was guarded by his sons. The 
animal was, however, carried off by some one into a 
chasm in the earth. Sagara commanded his sons to 
search for the steed, and they traced him by the impres- 
sions of the hoofs to the chasm, which he had entered. 
They proceeded to enlarge it, and dug downwards, each 
for a league. Coming to Patala, they saw the horse 
wandering freely about, and at no great distance from it 
was Kapila Rishi, sitting in meditation. Exclaiming 
" This is the villain who has maliciously interrupted our 
sacrifice, and stolen the horse, kill him, kill him," they ran 
towards him with uplifted weapons. The Rishi raised his 
eyes, and for an instant looked upon them, and they 
became reduced to ashes by the sacred flame that darted 
from him. On learning of the death of his sons, Sagara 


sent Amsumat, the son of Asamanja, to secure the animal. 
He went by the deep path which his father and uncles had 
dug, and, arriving at the place where Kapila was, propitia- 
ted him with an obeisance. The Rishi gave him the horse, 
to be delivered to his father, and in conferring the boon 
which Amsumat prayed for, said that his grandson would 
bring down the divine Ganges, whose " waters shall wash 
the bones and ashes of thy grandfather's sons," and raise 
them to swarga. Sagara then completed his sacrifice, 
and, in affectionate memory of his sons, called the chasm 
which they had dug Sagara. This is still the name of 
the ocean, and especially of the Bay of Bengal at the 
mouth of the Ganges, which, in accordance with the 
boon of Kapila, was brought down to earth by Amsumat's 
grandson Bhagiratha, from whom it received the name 
of Bhagirathi, which it retains to this day. Such is the 
story of the origin of the caste, members of which often 
call it Sagara kula, or the family of Sagara. As his 
sons excavated the ocean, so they dig tanks, channels, 
wells, etc. In the Mysore Census Reports, the Upparas 
are said to be called " Uppara in the eastern, Uppaliga 
in the southern, and Melu (west) Sakkre in the western 
districts. [Some explain that they work in salt, which is 
more essential than sugar, and that Mel Sakkare means 
superior sugar.] This caste is divided into the Telugu 
and Karnataka sub-divisions. The latter make earth-salt, 
while the former work as bricklayers and builders. The 
well-to-do section of the caste further undertake public 
works on contract, and some of them are good architects 
of ordinary Hindu houses, which do not call for much 
scientific precision. There are also agriculturists and 
labourers among them." In the Madras Presidency, at 
the present day, some members of the caste are well and 
tank diggers, house-builders or bricklayers ; others are , 


agricultural labourers, or village servants. A few are 
earth-work contractors, or, as at Muthialpet near 
Conjeeveram, yarn dyers. Some are in the service of 
Government as police constables. The women are very 
hard-working, and help their husbands at their work. 
To this fact is said to be due the high rate at which the 
bride-price is fixed. The well-kept roads of the city 
of Madras are the work of a colony of Upparas, who 
have settled there. The following curious custom is 
recorded by the Rev. J. Cain in a note* on the 
tank-diggers of the Godavari district. " A disturb- 
ance in a little camp of tank-diggers confirmed a 
statement which I heard at Masulipatam as to the manner 
in which the tank-diggers divide their wages. They had 
been repairing the bank of a tank, and been paid for 
their work, and, in apportioning the shares of each 
labourer, a bitter dispute arose because one of the women 
had not received what she deemed her fair amount. On 
enquiry, it turned out that she was in an interesting 
condition, and therefore could claim not only her own, 
but also a share for the expected child. This had been 
overlooked, and, when she asserted her right to a double 
portion, those who had already received their money 
objected to part with any, although they acknowledged 
that the claim was fair and just." 

By the Madras Salt Act, 1889, it is enacted that any 
person who — 

(a) removes any salt without or in excess of the 
permits necessary by this Act ; or 

(d) except for agricultural or building purposes, 
excavates, collects or possesses salt-earth in any local 
area where it is contraband salt ; or 

• Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879. 


(c) manufactures contraband salt in any other way 
than by excavating or collecting salt-earth ; or 

(ii) purchases, obtains, possesses, sells or weighs 
contraband salt other than salt-earth, knowing or having 
reason to believe it to be contraband ; or 

(e) refines saltpetre without such license as is 
prescribed by the Act ; or 

(/") attempts to commit, or within the meaning of 
the Indian Penal Code abets the commission of any of 
the above acts, 

shall on conviction be punishable for every such 
offence with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six 
months, or with fine not exceeding five hundred rupees, 
or with both. 

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, 
that " at the time when the Company came into posses- 
sion of the district, the salt consumed in it was of two 
kinds, namely, the earth-salt manufactured from saline 
soils by men of the Uppara caste, and the marine salt 
made on the west coast. The latter was imported by 
the Lambadis and Korachas, who brought it up the 
ghats by means of large droves of pack-bullocks. The 
earth-salt was made in what were known as modas, 
which were peculiar to the Ceded Districts, and were 
especially common in Bellary. A heap of earth was piled 
up, and on the top of it were hollowed out one or more 
circular basins, some five feet in diameter and two feet 
deep. From the bottom of these basins, channels lined 
with chunam (lime) ran down to one or more reservoirs 
similarly lined. Salt-earth was collected in the places 
where it effloresced naturally in the dry months, and 
taken to the moda on pack-buffaloes. It was thrown 
into the basins, and then a quantity of water was poured 
upon it. The brine so obtained flowed through the 


channels at the bottom of the basins into the reservoirs. 
From these it was baled with chatties (pots) into a set 
of masonry evaporating pans, carefully levelled and 
plastered with chunam, where it was left to be converted 
into salt by solar evaporation. Each lot of salt-earth, 
which was thus lixiviated, was taken from the basins and 
thrown outside them, and this process constantly repeated 
gradually raised the level of the moda and the basins, 
which were perpetually being re-made on the top of it. 
Some of the modas gradually grew to be as much as 
twenty feet in height. When they became too high for the 
buffaloes to carry the salt-earth up to their summits with 
comfort, they were abandoned, and others started else- 
where. The earth-salt made in this manner was neither 
so good nor so strong as marine salt, but it was much 
used by the poorer classes and for cattle, and thus 
interfered with the profits of the Government salt mono- 
poly, which was established in 1805. As early as 1806, 
therefore, it was proposed to prohibit its manufacture. 
The chief arguments against any such step were that it 
would inflict hardship upon the Upparas who made the 
salt, and upon the poorer classes who consumed it, and, 
for the next three quarters of a century, a wearisome 
correspondence dragged on regarding the course which 
it would be proper to pursue. In 1873, Mr. G. Thornhill, 
Member of the Board of Revenue, visited the Ceded 
Districts, to see how matters stood. He reported that 
it was not possible to check the competition of the earth- 
salt with the Government marine salt by imposing an 
excise duty, as the modas were numerous and scattered. 
For similar reasons, and also because all the Upparas were 
very poor, a license-tax was out of the question. At the 
same time he calculated that the loss to Government due 
to the system was from eight to ten lakhs annually, and. 

UPPARA 2.^6 

seeing that Government salt was obtainable in Bellary as 
cheaply as in other inland districts, he recommended that 
the industry should be gradually suppressed. Govern- 
ment agreed, and ordered that the opening of new modas 
should be prohibited, and that those in existence should 
be licensed, with reference to their productive capacity, 
at rates to increase by annual increments until 1879, 
when the full duty leviable on sea-salt should be imposed 
on their entire produce. These measures, though they 
checked the manufacture, failed to entirely protect the 
revenue, and, in 1876, the Madras Salt Commission and 
Board of Revenue concurred in recommending that the 
manufacture of earth-salt should be at once and entirely 
suppressed. The Government of India agreed, and in 
1880 orders were given that the modas should all be 
destroyed, reasonable compensation being paid to their 
owners. The manufacture of earth-salt in the district is 
now entirely a thing of the past, though in many places 
the remains of tlie old modas may still be seen. Some 
of the Upparas, however, still go annually to the Nizam's 
Dominions in the dry season, and make earth-salt by 
the old methods for sale there. Apparently they agree 
with the Nizam's Government to pay a certain fee, one- 
fourth of which is paid in advance, for the privilege. If 
the season is sufficiently dry, they make a small profit, 
but if, on the other hand, it is wet, manufacture is impos- 
sible, and they lose the amount of the fee, and their 
labour as well." A good deal of saltpetre is still made 
by members of the caste in various parts of the Madras 
Presidency by lixiviating the alkaline efflorescence 
of the earth. For this purpose, licenses are obtained 
annually from the Salt Department. Crude saltpetre is 
sold for manure on coffee estates, and also used in the 
manufacture of fireworks. 


Speaking different languages, and living in different 
parts of the country, the Uppiliyans, Upparas, and 
Upparas do not intermarry, though, where they are found 
close together, they interdine. 

The caste recognises the authority of its headmen, 
who are called Periyathanakaran, Ejaman, etc., and are 
assisted in some places, for example Madras, by a 
Jatibidda (son of the caste), who does the duties of 
caste peon or messenger, summoning members to a 
caste council-meeting, and so on. The usual punish- 
ments inflicted by a caste council are excommunication, 
fine, and the giving of a caste dinner. I am informed 
that, among the Canarese Upparas, a woman found 
guilty of adultery is punished as follows. A lock of her 
hair is cut off, and she is bathed in cold water, and made 
to drink a little cow-dung water. She is then taken to 
the temple, where the pujari (priest) sprinkles holy water 
over her head. A fine is paid by her family. A man, 
who is proved guilty of a similar offence, has one side of 
his moustache and one of his eyebrows shaved off, and 
the hair of his head is removed in three parallel lines. 
Seven small booths are constructed of straw, and set on 
fire. Through this the man has to pass. He is then 
plunged into a tank, and, after bathing therein, he is 
sprinkled with holy water. I am told that a woman 
has also to go through the fire ordeal. 

Girls are married either before or after puberty, but 
usually after. Among the Uppiliyans and Upparas, it is 
customary for a man to claim his paternal aunt's daughter 
in marriage. The ceremonies in connection with mar- 
riage vary in accordance with the locality. Amongst 
the Uppiliyans of Madura, the tali (marriage badge) is 
usually tied to the bride's neck by a special woman, 
resident in her village, called Sirkari. In some places it 


is tied, as among some other Tamil castes, by the bride- 
groom's sister. Among the Telugu and Canarese 
sections, it is tied by the bridegroom himself. By the 
Upparas of South Canara, the dhare marriage rite is 
performed, in which the father of the bride pours water 
from a vessel over the united hands of the contracting 
couple. I am told that, among some Canarese Upparas, 
the bridegroom's head is shaved, and, after bathing, he 
puts on a double brass wire corresponding to the sacred 
thread of the Brahmans, which he wears for five days. 
Among the Telugu Upparas there are two sub-divisions, 
which are called, according to the amount of the bride- 
price, Yedu (seven) Madala and Padaharu (sixteen) 
Madala, a mada being equal to two rupees. Some say 
that mada refers to the modas (heaps of earth) used in 
former times. At a marriage among some Uppiliyans, it 
is customary for the bride and bridegroom to sit inside a 
wall made of piled up water pots, with the ends of their 
cloths tied together, while some of the women present 
pour water from the pots over their heads. The re- 
marriage of widows is permitted, and I gather that, 
among the Upparas, a widow may only marry a widower, 
and vice versa. 

In a note on the Uppiliyans of the Trichinopoly 
district, Mr. F. R. Hemingway states that ''some of 
the marriage ceremonies are peculiar. They allow an 
unborn boy to be betrothed to his unborn cousin. The 
bride has to be asked in marriage a number of times, 
before consent is given, lest it be thought that she is 
yielding too easily. The marriage is performed at her 
house, lest it should be thought that her parents are 
forcing her on the bridegroom. The caste does not use 
the marriage pole or paligai pots. Instead of the usual 
turmeric threads, the wrists of the contracting couple are 


tied together with wool. A curious custom among the 
Tamil section is that, at the beginning of the ceremonies, 
both on the first and second day, three matrons wash 
their faces in turmeric water, and the bride and bride- 
groom are bathed with the water used by them. They 
also have unusual observances connected with a girl's 
attainment of maturity. A husband may not look into 
his bride's eyes until this occurs. When she has at 
length attained maturity, the husband comes to his bride's 
house with a sheep and some vegetables, and kills the 
former. His brother-in-law then marks his forehead with 
the sheep's blood. The husband eats some plantain and 
milk, and spits it out at his bride, who is made to stand 
behind a screen. If the girl has attained maturity before 
her marriage, the Tamil section of the caste make her 
walk over seven wooden hoops on the wedding day. 
The husband has to give his formal consent to the 
ceremony, and a washerman has to be present. The 
Telugus perform this rite on the last day of the girl's 
first menstrual period, and her maternal uncle has to 
be present. The Uppiliyans allow the remarriage of 
widows and divorced women. A man may not shave 
until he marries a virgin, and, if he does not do so, he 
has to remain unshaved all his life." 

The dead are, as a rule, buried. Among the 
Uppiliyans, who occupy a higher social position than 
the Canarese and Telugu sections, death pollution is ob- 
served for seven days. Among the Upparas, the period 
of pollution is sixteen days. 

Concerning the death ceremonies, Mr. Hemingway 
writes as follows. " Widows of the Tamil section never 
remove their tali, but leave it till it drops off of itself. 
When a man dies, his widow is made to pretend he is 
still alive, and bathes him with oil, and puts garlands on 


him. If a man is to be buried, the chief mourner 
pretends to dig the grave. The karumantaram, or 
final death ceremony, of the Tamil section consists 
merely in taking some milk to an erukka {Calotropis 
gigantea) shrub on the sixteenth evening, just before 
the jackals begin to howl. They pour it over the shrub 
with the help of a barber, saying ' Go to Swarga 
(the abode of Indra), and make your way to Kailasam 
(heaven).' " 

Some members of the caste are Vaishnavites, and 
others Saivites. In some places, the former are branded 
by their gurus, who are Vaishnava Brahmans. They 
also worship various village deities, which vary accord- 
ing to the place of residence. In the Census Report, 
1 89 1, the worship of Sunkalamma, Jambulamma, and 
Timmappa is noted. 

It is stated by Mr. Hemingway that "the Uppiliyans 
have a caste god, named Karuvandaraya Bommadeva. 
He has no temple, but all the Uppiliyans in a village 
join in offering him an annual sacrifice in Tai (January- 
February), before the earth is scraped for the first time 
in the season for making saltpetre. They use avaram 
{Cassia auriculata) flowers and river sand in this 
worship. They also have three special caste goddesses, 
called Tippanjal, who are supposed to be women who 
committed sati. They have also Brahman gurus, who 
visit them every year, and bless their salt pits." 

Concerning the caste organisation of the Uppiliyans, 
Mr. Hemingway writes that " when a complaint of a 
caste offence is made, notice is sent to the Pattakkaran 
(headman), and to the whole Uppiliyan community in 
the neighbourhood, notifying the accusation and the 
provisional expulsion of the accused. A second notice 
summons the community to a panchayat (council), which 

241 UPPU 

is presided over by at least two or three Pattakkarans, 
the caste god being represented by some avaram flowers, 
a pot of water, and margosa {Melia Azadirachta) leaves. 
If acquitted, the accused is made to touch the water pot 
in token of his innocence. If he is convicted, both he 
and the complainant are fined, the latter for the 
purification of his house, if it has been polluted by the 
offence. The purification is performed by a man of the 
Marudur Nadu called Rettai Vilakkukaran (man of two 
lights), who eats a meal in the polluted house, with his 
hands held behind his back." 

It was recently noted that the Upparasare, as a rule, 
uneducated, and their ignorance of the three R's often 
leads to bitter disputes among themselves and with their 
employers in disbursing their wages. Some years ago, 
one of the Madras Missions opened a school for the 
benefit of this backward caste. In 1906, the Hindu 
Educational Mission of Madras started a night and day 
school, Upparapalaiyam Arya Pathasala, in the Uppara- 
palaiyam quarter of Madras. 

There is a Telugu proverb to the effect that one is 
ruined both ways, like an Uppara who has turned 
Sanyasi (ascetic), in reference to the fact that he neither 
follows his ancestral occupation, nor is tolerated in his 
new calling. The usual caste title is Chetti. 

Uppara occurs as a synonym of Kusa Holeya. 

Uppu (salt). — A sub-division of Balijas and Koravas, 
who trade in salt, which they carry about the country 
in panniers on donkeys or bullocks. It is also an 
occupational sub-division of Komati. The equivalent 
Uppa is an exogamous sept of Kelasi. Uppukottei 
occurs as a division of Maravan, Upputholuvaru (salt- 
carriers) as an exogamous sept of Odde, and Uppiri 
(salt-earth) as a sept of Kuruba. 

URALI 242 

Urali.— In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the 
Uralis are described as " a caste of agricultural labourers 
found chiefly in the districts of Madura and Trichinopoly. 
The word Urali means a ruler of a village. Like the 
Ambalakkarans, they trace their descent from one 
Mutturaja, and the only sub-division returned by any 
number is Mutracha. They also assert that they were 
formerly employed as soldiers. In the Wynad there is a 
section of Kurumbas called Urali Kurumbas, and it is 
not improbable that these Uralis of the Tamil country 
are an offshoot of the great Kurumba race.'" The 
Uralis are further summed up in the same report, as 
" agricultural labourers in Coimbatore, Trichinopoly, and 
Madura. There seems to be some connection between 
the Uralis and the Ambalakkarans or Muttiriyans, 
Muttiriyan is a sub-division of both Urali and Ambalak- 
karan, and both of these are found in the same districts. 
Perhaps the Uralis are an offshoot of the Tamil 
Valaiyans, which by change of occupation has transformed 
itself into a distinct caste {see Ambalakkaran). The 
caste is split up into a number of sub-divisions, called 
after the name of the tract or nadu in Trichinopoly which 
each inhabits. To get back into the caste, an excom- 
municated man has to kill a sheep or goat before the 
elders, and mark his forehead with the blood. He then 
gives a feast to the assembly, and puts part of the food 
on the roof of his house. If the crows eat this, he is 
received back into the caste. [Brahmans always put out 
portions of the sraddha offerings in the same way, and 
judge whether they are acceptable or not by noting if the 
crows eat them or not.] Marriage is infant or adult. A 
man detected in an intrigue with an unmarried woman is 
fined, and has to marry her, and at the wedding his waist 
string is tied round her neck instead of a tali. The 

243 URALI 

well-to-do people of the caste employ Brahmans as 
priests, but others content themselves with their own 
elders. Widows and divorced women may marry again. 
The dead are either burned or buried. The richer 
members of the caste perform sraddha (memorial ser- 
vice for the dead). They drink alcohol, and eat fowls, 
mutton, pork, fish, rats, etc. In social position they come 
below the Idaiyans, Tottiyans, and Kalians. Their title is 

For the following note on the Uralis of the 
Trichinopoly district, I am indebted to Mr. F. R. 
Hemingway. " They say that they were originally 
Kshatriyas living in * Alipuram near Oudh,' and left that 
place in search of adventure, or in consequence of 
disputes at home, leaving their wives behind them, and 
finally settled in the south, where they married serving 
women (pulukkachis). They say that they belong to the 
Mutturaja Kuttam, a phrase they cannot explain, and 
protest that the Ambalakkarans, who make a similar 
claim, have no ground for so doing. They seem to eat 
with no other caste on equal terms, but will, of course, 
accept separate meals from Vellalans. They are split 
into seven nadus, which are in effect endogamous sub- 
divisions. These are called after villages in the country 
inhabited by the caste, namely, Vadaseri, Pilluru, 
Sengudi, Kadavangudi or Virali, Talakka, Paluvinji or 
Magali, and Marungi. The members of the first three of 
these nadus are called Vadaseri Uralis, and those of the 
other four Nattu-simai Uralis, Kunduva-nattu-tokkadus, 
or Nandutindis. All of them will mess together. They 
say that the nadus were originally intended to facilitate 
the decision of caste disputes, and they are still the unit 
of self-government. Each nadu has a headman, who 
exercises supreme control over the villages included 

URALl 244 

within it. The Uralis also have a number of exogamous 
septs called karais by the Vadaseris and kaniyacchis by 
the Nattu-simais, which are called after the names of 
places. They are generally cultivators, but are said 
sometimes to be given to crime. They wear the sacred 
thread on occasions of marriages and funerals. The 
women can be recognised by their dress, the kusavam 
being spread out behind, and a characteristic pencil- 
shaped ornament (kuchu) being suspended from the neck. 
Some of their marriage and funeral customs are peculiar. 
Among the Nattu-simais, the betrothal is ratified by 
the maternal uncle of each of the pair solemnly measur- 
ing out three measures of paddy (rice) in the presence 
of the other party at their house. At their funerals, 
the bier is not brought into the village, but left outside, 
and the corpse is carried to it. Among the Vadaseris, 
while preparations are being made for the removal of the 
body, a Paraiyan woman performs a dance. Among the 
Nattu-simais this is done on the Ettu day. On the 
second day after the funeral, the relatives of the deceased 
dip their toes in a mortar full of cow-dung water placed 
in front of his house, and put sacred ashes on the head. 
The karumantaram, or final death ceremony, is only 
performed by the rich. It can take place at any time 
after the third day. The Ettu ceremony is similarly 
performed at any time after the third day, and is attended 
with a curious ritual. Both sections of the caste erect 
a booth, in which three plantain trees are planted, 
and the chief mourner and his '^ousins stand there all day 
to receive the condolences of their friends. From this 
point the practice of the two sections differs in small 
points of detail. Among the Vadaseris, the friends come 
one by one, and are asked by the chief mourner, "Will 
you embrace, or will you strike your forehead?" In 

us tJRAU 

reply, the friend either closes the open hand of the chief 
mourner with his own as a form of embrace, or flings 
himself on the ground in the booth, and weeps. Each 
visitor then goes to a meeting of the nadu which is being 
held outside the village, and a Paraiyan and three Uralis 
inform the headman who have visited the booth and who 
have not, and ask if it may be removed. Permission 
being given, the plantains are cut down, and the woman- 
folk wail round a chembu (vessel) placed there. All 
then proceed to the nadu meeting, where a turban is put 
on a Paraiyan, a dancing-girl and a Pandaram, and 
the Paraiyan (called Nattu Samban) beats his drum, 
and pronounces a blessing on the nadu. Finally all 
repair to the house of the deceased, where the headman 
puts three handfuls of kambu (millet) into the cloth of 
his wife or some other member of the family, and throws 
a mortar on the ground. Punishments for caste offences 
take some curious forms. A margosa (Me/ta Azadirachta) 
leaf is put on the house of anyone who is excommunicated. 
If a man seduces a girl of the caste, an enquiry is held, 
and the pair are married. The waist-string of the man 
is tied round the neck of the woman, and a Tottiyan is 
called in to take away the pollution which they and their 
relatives have incurred. They are taken to a tank (pond), 
where io8 holes have been made by the Tottiyan, and 
are made to bathe in every hole, sprinkling the water over 
their heads. A sheep is then killed by a Tottiyan and a 
Chakkiliyan, its head is buried, and the couple and their 
relatives are made to walk over the spot. The blood of 
the animal is then smeared on their foreheads, and they 
all have to bathe again. They are next given cow's urine 
to drink, and then once more bathe. After that they are 
given milk, and are made to prostrate themselves before 
the panchayat (council). Finally they have to give a 

URALI 246 

feast to the panchayat, at which a part of the food 
is offered to the crows, and the purification is not 
complete till the birds have partaken thereof. The 
Uralis are fond of shikar (hunting). On the Sivaratri 
night, sacrifices are offered to their family gods, and, on 
the following day, all the men of the village go out 
hunting. They have a head shikari (huntsman), called 
Kavettaikaran, who receives every animal which is killed, 
cuts off its head, and breaks its legs. The head is given 
to the man who killed the animal, and the rest is shared 
among the castemen." 

Of the Uralis who inhabit the hill country of Travan- 
core, the following account is given in the Travancore 
Census report, 1901. "The Uralis are a class of hill 
tribes resident in the Cardamom Hills. They are chiefly 
found in the tracts known as Kunnanat, Velampan, 
Kurakkanat, Mannukat, Kalanat, and Periyur. The 
headman of the Uralis in each of these areas is called a 
Kanikkaran. Tradition tells us that they were the de- 
pendents of the kings of Madura, and that their duty was 
to hold umbrellas in times of State processions. In ancient 
times, many of the parts now included in the Todupuzha 
taluk belonged to the kingdom of Madura. Once, when 
the king came to Neriyamangalam, the ancestors of these 
Uralis are said to have accompanied him, and to have 
been left there to rule (ali) that locally (ur). The males 
dress like the low-country people, with cloths about four 
cubits long extending from the hip to the knee. Another 
cloth, about one or two cubits in length, is put over 
the back, one end of which passes under their right 
arm and the other over the shoulder, both meeting in 
front over the chest, where they are tied together in a 
peculiar knot by folding the extremities, thus forming a 
bag wherein to contain their wayside necessaries. 

247 URALI 

Females wear two pieces of cloth, nine and two and a 
half cubits in length respectively, and folded in the 
middle. The larger is the lower garment, and the 
smaller upper garment is worn with two ends tied 
around the neck. Males wear brass finger and toe-rings, 
sometimes of silver. Some adorn their necks with 
wreaths of beads, from fifteen to thirty in number. 
Females wear ear-ornaments known as katumani, which 
are rings of metal wire, four or five in number. Males 
generally allow their hair to grow, the face alone being 
now and then shaven. The Uralis eat rice for six 
months of the year, and subsist on roots, fruits, and other 
forest produce during the remaining half. A large 
portion of the paddy (rice) that the Uralis gather by 
cultivation goes to the low country in exchange for 
clothing and salt. The flesh of most animals is eaten, 
but the elephant and buffalo are held in such great 
respect that no Urali ever ventures to hurt them. Even 
the approach of the buffalo is religiously avoided. They 
begin to fell forest trees in Dhanu (December- January), 
and seeds are sown by the end of Metam (April- May). 
They have only a katti, which is a kind of chopping 
knife, for purposes of ploughing. After cultivation they 
change their abodes. They put up huts in the vicinity 
of the cultivated areas, and use bamboo and reeds as 
materials. After leaving the old, and before putting up 
the new hut, they live for several days in caves or under 
trees. They are very good watchmen, and take great 
care in putting up fences, weeding, and protecting culti- 
vation from wild animals. They make excellent mats of 
reed. They are clever huntsmen, and are passionately 
attached to their hunting dogs. They hoard their grains 
in wicker baskets called virivallam. They possess copper 
and brass vessels, mortar, chopping knives, sickles, 

URALI 248 

spades, flint and steel. A man after marriage lives with 
his wife, apart from his parents. Pollution of a very 
aggravated kind is observed during the menstrual and 
puerperal periods. On these occasions a separate matam 
(hut), called the pattu-pandal, is put up at a distance 
from the dwelling hut. Here the woman stays for three 
days. After bathing on the fourth day, she shifts to 
another matam still nearer, and stays there for one or 
two days. On the seventh day she rejoins the family. 
In cases of confinement, twelve days are spent in the 
remotest hut, and five days in the nearer one. But for 
another period of twenty days the woman is not permitted 
to touch any one in the house, or even the roofing of 
the hut. During these days food is prepared by others, 
and given to her. The water in which those who are 
confined, and those who are in their menses bathe, is 
considered to be defiled beyond remedy. Hence, for 
bathing purposes some secluded and out-of-the-way 
pool, called pattuvellam, is selected. Uralis coming to 
the low country hesitate to drink water, on the score that 
it might be thus polluted. When the woman delivers 
herself of her first child, her husband observes three days* 
pollution, but none for subsequent confinements. On 
all such occasions, the maternal relations of the woman 
have to observe five days' pollution. On the eighteenth 
day after birth, the eldest member of the family names 
the child, and bores the ear. The head of the child is 
shaved as soon as it is able to walk, and a tuft of hair is 
left in front. The corpses of the Uralis are not burnt, 
but buried at a sufficient distance from the house. A 
new cloth is put into the grave by each relative. After 
filling in the grave, they erect a shed over it, within 
which the chopping knife of the deceased, a quantity of 
boiled rice, and some chewing materials (betel and nuts) 

249 URALI 

are placed. After the lapse of seven years, an offering 
of food and drink is made to the departed soul. Death 
pollution lasts for sixteen days. The Uralis address 
their father as appan, and maternal uncle as achchan. 
Marumakkathayam is the prevailing form of inheritance 
(in the female line). Marriage is settled by the parents. 
There is no tali symbol to indicate the wedded state. 
After the marriage is settled, the girl is merely sent 
to the pandal or hut of the husband. The Uralis 
intermarry with the Ulladans, and in rare cases with 
Muduvans. Remarriage is permitted. An Urali, wish- 
ing to get married into a particular family, has to 
wed into the family a girl belonging to his own. The 
Uralis have a fine ear for music, and sing many songs 
in the night before going to bed. Like the Kanis 
(Kanikars), they resort to enchantments called cheppuka 
and chattuka for the cure of diseases. Their would-be 
sorcerers have to leave the community, and wander 
alone in the forest for a number of months. They are 
said to then get into a trance, when their forefathers 
appear before them as maidens, and teach them the 
mystic arts. The Uralis bear their loads only on the 
back, and never on the head. They never go to distant 
places without their chopping knife. They are good 
forest guides." The Uralis are stated by the Rev. S. 
Mateer * to practice polyandry like the Todas. 

Urali is further a synonym of the Tandans 
of Travancore, in reference, it is said, to their having 
been guardians of villages (ur) in former times. It 
is also the title of the headman of the Kuravas of 
Travancore and a synonym of the Kolayans of 

• Native Life in Travancore. 

URALI 250 

Urali.— -The Uralis, who form the subject of the 
present note, dwell at an altitude of 1,800 feet in the 
jungles of Dimbhum in the Coimbatore district, where a 
forest bungalow, situated on a breezy ridge overlooking 
the plains, formed a convenient centre from which to 
study both Uralis and the more primitive Sholagas. 

The Uralis are familiar with the Badagas, who have 
a settlement not many miles distant ; the Todas, who 
occasionally migrate across the adjacent Nilgiri frontier 
in search of grazing land for their buffaloes ; and the 
Kurumbas and Irulas, who inhabit the lower slopes of 
the Nilgiris, which run down to Coimbatore. With the 
civilised world they are acquainted, as they carry loads 
to the plains, and run down to market at the town of 
Sathyamangalam, which is only seventeen miles distant 
from Dimbhum. Like the Nilgiri Badagas, they are 
clad in turban, and long flowing body-cloth, white (when 
new), or striped with red and blue. The hair is worn 
long and unkempt, or shaved d la Hindu with kudimi 
in mimicry of the more civilised classes, A man was 
introduced to us as an expert mimic of the note of the 
paroquet, peacock, jungle-fowl and other forest birds ; 
and a small party improvised, in front of the bungalow, a 
bird trap cleverly constructed out of stones, an iron plate 
from the camp kitchen, bamboo, and rope made on the 
spot from the bark of Ficus Tsiela. The making of fire 
with flint and steel is fast disappearing in favour of safety 

The Uralis say that they are men of seven kulams 
{ji.e., having seven posts to the marriage booth), and are 
children of Billayya, while they describe the Shdlagas as 
men of five kulams and children of Karayya. They call 
themselves Uralis or Irulas, and, when questioned, say 
that, as Billayya and Karayya are brothers, they may also 


251 URALI 

be called Sholagas. But there is no intermarriage 
between Ural is and Shalagas, though members of the 
two tribes sometimes interdine. According to another 
legend, the Uralis and Sholagas are both descended from 
Karayan, and the Sivacharis (Lingayats) from Billaya 
or Madheswaram {see Sholaga). They speak a patois 
of mixed Tamil and Canarese, and have a number of 
exogamous septs, the meaning of the names of which is 
not clear. They indulge in a large repertoire of nick- 
names, for the most part of a personal nature, such as 
donkey-legged, big-navelled, pot-bellied, hare-lipped, 
hairy like a bear or the tail of a mungoose, toothless, 
lying, brought up on butter-milk. One man was named 
Kothe Kalian (kotha, a stone), because he was born on a 
rock near Kotagiri. 

The majority of the tribe earn a modest livelihood 
by collecting minor forest produce, such as myrabolams, 
wax and honey, and poles for use as primitive breaks for 
country carts during the ascent of the ghat road. These 
poles are tied to the carts by ropes, and trail behind 
on the ground, so that, when the cart stops, the backward 
course of the wheels is arrested. Some till the soil, and 
cultivate various kinds of food-grains. Others are sheep 
and cattle owners. A few families possess land, which is 
given free^of rent by the Forest Department, on condition 
that they work for the department whenever their services 
are required. As a class they are not inclined to do hard 
work, and they appear to get into the clutches of money- 
lending Chettis. Their staple food is ragi {Eleusine 
Coracana). But they eat also sheep, fowls, goat, deer, 
pigeons and doves, black monkeys, wild boar, hare, 
hedgehogs, paroquets, quails and partridges, jungle-fowl, 
woodcock, woodpeckers, and other denizens of the 
jungle. A man who was asked whether they eat beef, 

UrAU i5^ 

cats, toads, bears, or white monkeys, expectorated 
violently at the mention of each, and the suggestion 
of the first three produced the most explosive oral 

Tribal disputes are referred to a headman, called 
Yejamana, who must belong to the exogamous sept 
called Sambe, and whose appointment is an hereditary 
one. To assist him, three others, belonging to the 
Kalkatti, Kolkara and Kurinanga septs, whose hereditary 
titles are Pattagara, Gouda and Kolkara, are appointed. 
The Kolkara has to invite people to the panchayat (tribal 
council), collect the fines inflicted, and be present on the 
occasion of marriages. A woman who, after marriage, 
refuses to live with her husband, is punished thus. She 
is tied to a tree, and the Kolkaran empties the contents 
of a hornet or wasp's nest at her feet. After a few 
minutes the woman is questioned, and, if she agrees to 
live with her husband, she must, in token of assent, lick 
a mark made on his back by the Kolkara with fowl's 
excrement, saying " You are my husband. In future 
I shall not quarrel with you, and will obey you." Even 
after this ordeal has been gone through, a woman may, 
on payment of a fine, leave her husband in favour of 
another man of the tribe. 

When a girl reaches puberty, she is anointed, deco- 
rated with jewelry, and made to occupy a separate hut 
for seven days, during which time two young girls keep 
her company. On the eighth day, all three bathe in a 
pond or stream, and return in their wet clothes to the 
girl's home, where they sit on a pestle placed in front 
of the door. A plantain leaf is then placed in front of 
them, on which cooked rice and curry are spread. A 
child, aged about eight or nine months, is set in the 
girl's lap, and she feeds the infant with a small quantity 

253 URALI 

of rice, of which she herself swallows a few mouthfuls. 
Those assembled then sit down to a meal, at the conclu- 
sion of which they wash their hands in a dish, and the 
girl throws the water away. The feast concluded, the 
spot is sprinkled with cowdung water, and cleaned up by 
the girl. 

Marriage is either infant or adult, but, as a rule, the 
latter. The match-making is carried out by the boy's 
parents, who, with his other relations, pay two visits, one 
with and one without the boy, to the parents of the girl. 
At the first visit a present of ragi, and at the second of 
plantains, rice, and millet pudding is made. The party 
must be received with due respect, which is shown by 
taking hold of the walking-sticks of the guests on arrival, 
and receiving them on a mat spread inside the house. 
The customary form of salute is touching the feet with 
both hands, and raising them, with palms opposed, to 
the forehead. Before taking their seats, the guests 
salute a vessel of water, which is placed on the mat, 
surrounded by betel leaves and nuts. A flower is placed 
on the top of the stone or figure which represents the 
tribal goddess, and, after puja (worship) has been done 
to it, it is addressed in the words **Oh, Swami ! drop 
the flower to the right if the marriage is going to be 
propitious, and to the left if otherwise." Should the 
flower remain on the image, without falling either way, 
it is greeted as a very happy omen. On the occasion 
of the betrothal ceremony, if the bridegroom's party, on 
their way to the bride's village, have to cross a stream, 
running or dry, the bridegroom is not allowed to walk 
across it, but must be carried over on the back of his 
maternal uncle. As they approach the bride's home, 
they are met by the Kolkara and two other men, to 
whom the Kolkara, after receiving the walking-sticks of 

URALI 254 

the guests, hands them over. Failure to do so would be 
an act of discourtesy, and regarded as an insult to be 
wiped out by a heavy fine. When the procession arrives 
at the house, entrance into the marriage booth is pre- 
vented by a stick held across it by people of the bride's 
village. A mock struggle takes place, during which 
turmeric water is thrown by both sides, and an entrance 
into the house is finally effected. After a meal has been 
partaken of, the bridal party proceed to the village of 
the bridegroom, where the bride and bridegroom are 
lodged in separate houses. In front of the bridegroom's 
house a booth, supported by twelve posts arranged in 
four rows, has been erected. The two pillars nearest the 
entrance to the house are called murthi kamba. Into 
the holes made for the reception of these, after a cocoa- 
nut has been broken, ghi (clarified butter), milk, and a 
few copper coins are placed. The bridal pair, after an oil 
bath, are led to the booth, decorated with jewels and 
wearing new cloths, and made to sit on a plank. A 
cocoanut is broken, and they salute a vessel placed on 
a plate. The bridal party then adjourn to a pond or 
stream, and do puja to their god. On the return thence 
the bridal couple must be accompanied by their maternal 
uncles, who should keep on dancing, while cocoanuts are 
broken in front of them till the house is reached. The 
contracting parties then again sit on the plank with their 
little fingers linked, while the bride money (theravu) is 
paid to the father-in-law, and the milk money (pal kuli) 
to the mother-in-law. The tali (a golden disc) is then 
tied on to the bride's neck by some female relation of 
the bridegroom, and the bride and bridegroom, after 
saluting those assembled, enter the house, where the 
young wife is at once told to cook some rice, of which 
she and her husband partake from the same leaf plate. 

255 URALI 

There exists, among the Uralis, a kind of informal 
union called kuduvali. A man and woman will, by 
mutual agreement, elope into the jungle, and live there 
together, till they are discovered and brought back by 
their relations. A panchayat (council) is held, and they 
are recognised as man and wife if the bride money and 
fine inflicted are paid. Failure to pay up would render 
them liable to excommunication. To celebrate the event, 
a feast must be given by the man ; and, if he should die 
without having fed the community, any children born 
to him are considered as illegitimate. In such a case, 
the widow or her near relatives are asked to give food to 
at least a few before the corpse is removed, so as to 
legitimatise the children. 

The Uralis bury their dead, and the death ceremonies 
are, to a certain extent, copied from those of the Badagas. 
As soon as a member of the tribe dies, the corpse is 
anointed, washed, and dressed in new clothes and turban. 
On the face three silver coins are stuck, viz. : — a rupee 
on the forehead, and a quarter rupee outside each eye. 
When all have assembled for the funeral, the corpse is 
brought out and placed under a car (teru) of six storeys, 
made of bamboo and sticks, covered with coloured cloths 
and flags, and having at the top a kalasa (brass vessel) 
and umbrella. To the accompaniment of a band a 
dance takes place around the car, and the procession 
then moves on to the burial-ground, where a cow buffalo 
is brought near the car, and a little milk drawn and 
poured three times into the mouth of the corpse. A cow 
and one or two calves are taken round the car, and the 
calves presented to the sister of the deceased. The car 
is then broken up, after the decorations have been 
stripped off. The corpse is buried either on the spot, or 
taken away to distant Nirgundi, and buried there. On 

urAli 256 

the eighth day after the funeral or return from Nirgundi, 
the eldest son of the deceased has his head shaved, and, 
together with his brother's wife, fasts. If the funeral 
has been at Nirgundi, the son, accompanied by his 
relations, proceeds thither after tying some cooked 
rice in a cloth. On arrival, he offers this to all the 
memorial stones in the burial-ground (goppamane), and 
erects a stone, which he has brought with him, in memory 
of the deceased. He then anoints all the stones with 
ghi, which is contained in a green bamboo measure. He 
collects the rice, which has been offered, and one of the 
party, .becoming inspired, gives vent to oracular decla- 
rations as to the season's prospects, the future of the 
bereaved family, etc. The collected rice is regarded as 
sacred, and is partaken of by all. Each sept has its own 
goppamane, which is a rectangular space with mud walls 
on three sides. In cases in which the corpse has been 
buried close to the village, the grave is marked by a file 
of stones. Two or three years afterwards, the body is 
exhumed, and the bones are collected, and placed in 
front of the house of the deceased. All the relations 
weep, and the son conveys the bones to Nirgundi, 
where he buries them. On the eighth day he revisits 
the spot, and erects a stone with the ceremonial already 

The Uralis worship a variety of minor deities, and 
sacrifice sheep and goats to Palrayan. They observe 
two annual festivals, viz. : — (a) Thai nombu, when the 
whole house is cleaned, and margosa (Me/ta Azadi- 
rachtd) twigs and spikes of Achyranthes aspera are tied 
together, and placed in front of the house over the roof, 
or stuck into the roof overhanging the entrance. A 
sumptuous repast is partaken of. This ceremonial 
takes place in the month Thai (December- January). 

257 USIRA 

{b) In the month Vyasi (March- April) a large trough is 
placed close to a well, and filled with a mixture of salt 
and water. The cattle, decorated with leaves and flowers, 
are brought, one by one, to the trough, and made to 
drink the salt water. 

Uril Parisha. — A class of Mussad. 
Uru.— Ur, Uru, meaning village, is the name of 
a division of Bedar, Boya, Golla, Korava, Kuruba, 
Madiga, and Odde. The Bedars and Boyas are divided 
into two main divisions, Uru or those who dwell in 
villages, and Myasa (grass-land or forest people) who live 
away from villages. In like manner, the Uru Oddes are 
those who have abandoned a nomad life, and settled in 
villages. Among some of the Tamil cultivating classes, 
the headman is known as the Ur Goundan. 

Ur-Udaiyan (lord of a village). — A synonym of 

Urukathi (a kind of knife). — An exogamous sept of 

Urukkaran, a class of Muhammadan pilots and 
sailors in the Laccadive islands. [See Mappilla.) 

Urumikkaran.— The Urumikkarans, or those who 
play on the drum (urumi), are said * to be " Tottiyans 
in Madura, and Parayans elsewhere." The Kappiliyans 
say that they migrated with the Urumikkarans from the 
banks of the Tungabadra river, because the Tottiyans 
tried to ravish their women. At a Kappiliyan wedding, 
a Urumikkaran must be present at the distribution of 
betel on the second day, and at the final death ceremonies 
a Urumikkaran must also be present. 

Usira (usirika, Phyllanthus Emblica). — A sept of 

* Madras Census Report, 1901, 

UTLA 258 

Utla.— Utla or Utlavadu has been recorded as an 
occupational sub-caste of Yerukala, and an exogamous 
sept Oi Boya and Padma Sale. The name is derived 
from utlam, a hanging receptacle for pots, made of 
palmyra fibre, which some Yerukalas make and sell.* 

Uttareni i^Achyranthes aspera). — An exogamous sept 
of Boya. 

Uyyala (a swing). — An exogamous sept of Mala, 
Mutracha, and Yerukala. During the marriage cere- 
monies of Brahmans and some non- Brahman castes, the 
bride and bridegroom are seated in a swing within the 
marriage booth, and songs called uyyala patalu (swing 
songs) are sung by women to the accompaniment of music. 

Vada.— On the coast of Ganjam and Vizagapatam, 
the sea fishermen are either Vadas or Jalaris, both of 
which are Telugu castes. The fishing operations are 
carried on by the men, and the fish are sold by the 
women in markets and villages. Various Oriya castes, 
e.g., Kevuto, Kondra, Tiyoro, etc., are employed as 
fishermen, but only in fresh-water. The Vadas seem to 
be a section of the Palles, with whom they will interdine 
and intermarry. They call themselves Vada Balijas, 
though they have no claim to be regarded as Balijas. 
Sometimes they are called Kalasis by Oriya people. 

Socially the Vadas occupy a low position. Their 
language is a corrupt and vulgar form of Telugu. The 
men wear a conical palm leaf cap, such as is worn by 
the Pattanavan fishermen in the Tamil country. In the 
presence of a superior, they remove their loin-cloth and 

* Madras Census Report^ 1 901. 


259 VADA 

place it round their neck and shoulders as a mark of 
respect. Among many other castes, this would, on the 
contrary, be regarded as an act of impertinence. 

Like other Telugu castes, the Vadas have exogamous 
intiperus, some of which seem to be peculiar to them, 
e.g., Mailapilli, Ganupilli, Sodupilli, Davulupilli. Other 
intiperus are such as are common to many Telugu castes. 
The caste headmen are entitled Kularaju and Pilla, and 
the appointments are apparently held by members of 
particular septs. At Chatrapur, for example, they belong 
to the Mailapilli and Vanka septs. There is also a caste 
servant styled Samayanodu. The headmen seem to have 
more power among the Vadas than among other Telugu 
castes, and all kinds of caste matters are referred to them 
for disposal. They receive a fee for every marriage, and 
arrange various details in connection with the wedding 
ceremonial. This is based on the Telugu type, with a 
few variations. When a young man's relations proceed 
to the house of the girl whom it is proposed that he 
should marry, the elders of her family offer water in a 
brass vessel to their guests, if they approve of the match. 
During the marriage rites, the bride and bridegroom sit 
within a pandal (booth), and the men of the bridegroom's 
party exhibit to those assembled betel leaf, areca nuts, 
oil, turmeric paste, etc., in which no foreign matter, such 
as fragments of paper, rags, etc., must be found. If they 
are discovered, a fine is inflicted. 

There is exhibited in the Madras Museum a collection 
of clay figures, such as are worshipped by fishermen on 
the Ganjam coast, concerning which Mr. H. D'A. C. 
Reilly writes to me as follows. " I am sending you 
specimens of the chief gods worshipped by the fishermen. 
The Tahsildar of Berhampur got them made by the 
potter and carpenter, who usually make such figures for 

VADA 260 

the Gopalpur fishermen. I have found fishermen's 
shrines at several places. Separate families appear to 
have separate shrines, some consisting of large chatties 
(earthen pots), occasionally ornamented, and turned 
upside down, with an opening on one side. Others are 
made of brick and chunam (lime). All that I have seen 
had their opening towards the sea. Two classes of figures 
are placed in these shrines, viz., clay figures of gods, 
which are worshipped before fishing expeditions, and 
when there is danger from a particular disease which 
they prevent ; and wooden figures of deceased relations, 
which are quite as imaginative as the clay figures. 
Figures of gods and relations are placed in the same 
family shrine. There are hundreds of gods to choose 
from, and the selection appears to be a matter of family 
taste and tradition. The figures, which I have sent, 
were made by a potter at Venkatarayapalle, and painted 
by a carpenter at Uppulapathi, both villages near 
Gopalpur. The Tahsildar tells me that, when he was 
inspecting them at the Gopalpur travellers' bungalow, 
sixty or seventy fisher people came and worshipped 
them, and at first objected to their gods being taken 
away. He pacified them by telling them that it was 
because the Government had heard of their devotion to 
their gods that they wanted to have some of them in 
Madras." The collection of clay figures includes the 
following : — 

Bengali Babu wears a hat, and rides on a black 
horse. He blesses the fishermen, secures large hauls of 
fish for them, and guards them against danger when out 
fishing. It has been observed that " this affinity 
between the Ganjam fishermen and the Bengali Babu, 
resulting in the apotheosis of the latter, is certainly a 
striking manifestation of the catholicity of hero-worship. 


26l VADA 

and it would be interesting to have the origin of this 
particular form of it, to know how long, and for what 
reasons the conception of protection has appealed to the 
followers of the piscatory industry. It was Sir George 
Campbell, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, who com- 
pelled his Bengali officials, much against their inclination, 
to cultivate the art of equitation." 

Samalamma wears a red skirt and green coat, and 
protects the fishermen from fever. 

Rajamma, a female figure, with a sword in her right 
hand, riding on a black elephant. She blesses barren 
women with children, and favours her devotees with big 
catches when they go out fishing. 

Yerenamma, riding on a white horse, with a sword 
in her right hand. She protects fishermen from drowning, 
and from being caught by big fish. 

Bhagirathamma, riding on an elephant, and having 
eight or twelve hands. She helps fishermen when 
fishing at night, and protects them against cholera, 
dysentery, and other intestinal disorders. 

Nukalamma wears a red jacket and green skirt, and 
protects the fishing community against small-pox. 

Orusandi Ammavaru prevents the boats from being 
sunk or damaged. 

Bhagadevi rides on a tiger, and protects the commu- 
nity from cholera. 

Veyyi Kannula Ammavaru, or goddess of a thousand 
eyes, represented by a pot pierced with holes, in which 
a gingelly (Sesamum) oil light is burnt. She attends to 
the general welfare of the fisher folk. 

The chief sea goddess of the Vadas seems to be 
Orusandiamma, whose image must be made out of the 
wood of the nim {Me/za Azadirachta) tree. She is 
supposed to have four arms. Many of the pot temples 

VADA 262 

set up on the sea-shore are her shrines. On no account 
should she be provoked, lest the fishing boat should be 
upset. She is regarded as constantly roaming over^the 
sea in a boat at night. Associated with her is a' male 
deity, named Ramasondi, who is her brother. His vaha- 
nam (vehicle) is an elephant. Orusandi is worshipped 
separately by each family. At the time of worship, 
flowers, two cloths, a fowl, a goat, and a bottle of toddy 
or arrack, are carried in procession to the sea-shore. 
Before the procession starts, people collect in front of 
the house of the person who is doing the puja (worship), 
and tie him and the goat to a long post set up in front 
thereof. A toy boat is placed before the post, and 
Ramasondi is invoked by a person called Mannaru, who 
becomes inspired by the entrance of the deity into him. 
A fowl is sacrified, and, with the boat on his head, the 
Mannaru proceeds towards the shore. Orusandi is then 
invoked, but does not come so easily as Ramasondi. 
Repeated invocations are necessary before some one 
becomes inspired. The goat, post, and a pot shrine for 
the goddess are taken to the shore. A small platform is 
erected there, on which the shrine, smeared with chunam 
(lime), is placed, and in it the image is deposited. Wor- 
ship is then performed, and the goat sacrificed if it crawls 
along on all fours and shivers. If it does not do so, 
another goat is substituted for it. As every family sets 
up its own pot shrine, the number of these is considerable, 
and they extend over several furlongs. 

The sea goddess Marulupolamma is housed in a 
small shed made of date palm leaves. A goddess who is 
very much feared, and worshipped at the burial-ground, 
is Bulokamma. Her worship is carried out at noon or 
midnight. She is represented by a pot, of which the 
neck is removed. In the sides of the pot four holes are 

263 VADA 

made, into each of which a twig is inserted. The ends 
of the twigs are tied together with thread, so that they 
represent a miniature pandal (booth). The pot is carried 
by a Mannaru, dressed up like a woman in black and 
white cloths, together with another pot representing 
Enuga Sakthi. The former is carried in the bend of the 
left elbow, and the latter on the head. The pots are 
accompanied in procession to the burial-ground, and, on 
the way thither some one becomes inspired, and narrates 
the following legend : — " I am Bulokasakthi. Ages ago 
I was in an egg, of which the upper half became the 
sky and the lower half the earth, and was released. The 
moon was the mark on my forehead, and the sun was my 
mirror. Seven gadhis (a measure of time) after my birth, 
a west wind arose. By that time I had grown into an 
adult woman, and so I embraced the wind, which impreg- 
nated me, and, after nine gadhis, Brahma was born. He 
grew into a young man, and I asked him to embrace me, 
but he refused, and, as a curse, I caused him to become 
a stone. Vishnu underwent the same fate, but Siva 
promised to satisfy me, if I gave him my third eye, 
shoulder-bag, and cane. This I did, and lost my power. 
Then all the water disappeared, and I was covered with 
mud. Siva again caused water to appear, and of it 
I took three handfuls, and threw them over my body. 
The third handful consumed me, and reduced me to 
ashes. From these were created Sarasvati, Parvati, and 
Bulokamma. I am that Bulokamma. I asked a favour 
of Siva. He made me remain within this earth, and, 
drawing three lines, said that I should not come out, 
and should receive offerings of fowls and goats." At 
this stage, a chicken is given to the Mannaru, who bites, 
and kills it. At the burial-ground worship is performed, 
and a goat sacrificed. The goddess being confined 

VADA 264 

within the earth, no shrine is erected to her, and she is 
not represented by an image. A small pandal is erected, 
and the pot placed near it. 

The goddess Kalimukkamma is represented by a 
paper or wooden mask painted black, with protruding 
tongue. With her is associated her brother Baithari. 
She is believed to be one of the sisters created by 
Brahma from his face at the request of Iswara, the others 
being Polamma, Maridipoli, Kothapoli, Jungapoli, Nuka- 
poli, Runjamma, and Kundamma. The shrine of Kali- 
mukkamma is a low hut made of straw. At the time of 
worship to her, a Mannaru, dressed up as a woman, puts 
on the mask, and thus represents her. A stone slab, 
containing a figure of Kalimukkamma, is carried by a 
woman. She is the only goddess who may be represented 
by a stone. To her pigs are offered. 

Peddamma or Polamma is represented by a wooden 
effigy. Along with her, Maridiamma is also worshipped. 
The offerings to Peddamma consist of a goat or sheep, 
and a pot of milk. A pig is sacrificed to Maridiamma. 
When the people proceed in procession to the place of 
worship, a toy cart is tied to the person representing 
Maridiamma, and some one must carry a toy boat. At a 
distance from the house, the cart is detached, and a pig 
is killed by an abdominal incision. 

Samalamma is a mild goddess, with vegetarian pro- 
pensities, to whom animal food must not be offered. She 
is associated with the aforesaid Bengali Babu riding on a 
horse. Her image may only be carried by young girls, 
and grown-up women may not touch it. 

Of the Sakthis worshipped by the Vadas, the chief is 
Koralu Sakthi. The man who performs the worship is 
tied to a country cart, to which a central stake, and a 
stake at each corner are attached. Dressed up in female 



265 VADRA 

attire, he drags the cart, with which he makes three 
rounds. A chicken is then impaled on each of the corner 
stakes, and a pig on the central stake. 

In former times, the images of the deities were 
made in clay, but it has been found by experience that 
wooden images are more durable, and do not require 
to be replaced so often. Along with the images of 
gods and goddesses, the Vadas place figures represent- 
ing deceased relatives, after the peddadinam (final death 

The Mannarus are very important individuals, for 
not only do they perform worship, but are consulted on 
many points. If a man does not secure good catches of 
fish, he goes to the Mannaru, to ascertain the cause of 
his bad luck. The Mannaru holds in his hand a string, 
to which a stone is tied, and invokes various gods and 
goddesses by name. Every time a name is mentioned, 
the stone either swings to and fro like a pendulum, or 
performs a circular movement. If the former occurs, it 
is a sign that the deity whose name has been pronounced 
is the cause of the misfortune, and must be propitiated 
in a suitable manner. 

Vadakkupurattu. — A synonym, meaning belong- 
ing to the north side of the temple, of Marans in 

Vadra.— Vadra, Vadrangi, or Vadla is a name of 
a sub-division of Telugu Kamsalas, the professional 
calling of which is carpentering. It is noted, in the 
Gazetteer of Tanjore, that " wood-carving of a very fair 
quality is done at several places in the Tanjore district 
by a class of workmen called car carpenters, from the 
fact that their skill is generally exercised in carving 
images on temple cars. They are found at Tanjore, 
Mannargudi, Tiruvadaturai and Tiruvadi, and perhaps 


elsewhere. The workmen at the last-named place are 
Vaddis. The Vaddis of the Godavari district are also 
found to do wood-carving, sometimes with great skill." 

Vadugan. — At the census, 1891, 180,884 individuals 
were returned as Vadugan, which is described as meaning 
"a native of the northern or Telugu country, but in 
ordinary usage it refers to the Balijas. I find, however, 
that 56,380 Vadugars have returned their sub-division 
as Kammavar or Kammas, and that the term has been 
used to denote many Telugu castes. At the census, 
1901, the number of people returning themselves as 
Vadugan dropped to 95,924, and the name is defined by 
the Census Superintendent as a ** linguistic term mean- 
ing a Telugu man, wrongly returned as a caste name by 
Kammas, Kapus and Balijas in the Tamil districts." 
In the Salem Manual, Vaduga is noted as including all 
who speak Telugu in the Tamil districts, e.g., Odde, 
Bestha, etc. 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that "of 
the same social standing as the Kammalans are the Vadu- 
gans (northerners), a makkattayam caste of foreigners 
found in Palghat and the adjoining part of Waluvanad. 
They are divided into two exogamous classes, one of 
which is regarded as inferior to the other, and per- 
forms purificatory ceremonies for the caste. They cut 
their hair close all over the head, and have no kudumis 
(hair knot)." 

It is noted by Mr. L. Moore* that " Xavier, 
writing in 1542 to 1544, makes frequent references to 
men whom he calls Badages, who are said to have been 
collectors of royal taxes, and to have grievously oppressed 
Xavier's converts among the fishermen of Travancore.f 

* Malabar Law and Custom, 3rd ed,, 1905. 

\ Father Coleridge's Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier. 


Dr. Caldwell, alluding to Xavier's letters, says* that 
these Badages were no doubt Vadages or men from the 
North, and is of opinion that a Jesuit writer of the time 
who called them Nayars was mistaken, and that they 
were really Nayakans from Madura. I believe, however, 
that the Jesuit rightly called them Nayars, for I find 
that Father Organtino, writing in 1568, speaks of these 
Badages as people from Narasinga, a kingdom north of 
Madura, lying close to Bishnaghur. Bishnaghur is, of 
course, Vijayanagar, and the kingdom of Narasinga was 
the name frequently given by the Portuguese to Vijaya- 
nagar. There is a considerable amount of evidence to 
show that the Nayars of Malabar are closely connected by 
origin with the Nayakans of Vijayanagar." {See Nayar.) 

Vadugayan (Telugu shepherd). — A Tamil synonym 
for Golla. 

Vagiri or Vagirivala. — See Kuruvikkaran. 

Vagiti (doorway or court-yard). — An exogamous 
sept of Jogi. 

Vaguniyan.— 5"^^ Vayani. 

Vaidyan.^Vaidyon or Baidya, meaning physician or 
medicine-man, occurs as a title of Kshaurakas, Billavas, 
and Pulluvans, and, at times of census, has been returned 
as an occupational sub-division of Paraiyans. 

Village physicians are known as Vaidyans, and 
may belong to any caste, high or low. The Vaidyan 
diagnoses all diseases by feeling the pulse, and, after doing 
this for a sufficiently long time, remarks that there is an 
excess of vatham, pitham, ushnam, and so on. His stock 
phrases are vatham, pitham, ushnam, sleshmam, karakam, 
megham or meham, saithyam, etc. Orthodox men and 
women do not allow the Vaidyan to feel the by 

• Histoiy of Tinnevelly. 


direct contact of the fingers, and a silk cloth is placed on 
the patient's wrist. The pulse of males is felt with 
the right hand, and that of females with the left. Some 
Vaidyans crack the finger and wrist-joints before they 
proceed to feel the pulse. Some are general practi- 
tioners, and others specialists in the treatment of fever, 
piles, jaundice, syphilis, rheumatism, and other diseases. 
The specialists are generally hereditary practitioners. 
In the treatment of cases, the Vaidyan prescribes 
powders and pills, and a decoction or infusion (kashayam) 
of various drugs which can easily be obtained at 
the village drug-shop, or with the help of the village 
herbalist. Among these are ginger, pepper, Abies 
Webbiana, Acorus calamus, nim [Melia Azadirackta), 
or Andrographis paniculata sticks, Alpinia Galanga, 
etc. If the medicine has to be taken for a long time, the 
drugs are compounded together in the form of a lehyam, 
e.g., bilvadi, kushpanda, and purnadi lehyam. Some 
Vaidyans prepare powders (basmam), such as swarna 
(gold) basmam, pavala (coral powder) basmam, or 
sankha (chank shell powder) basmam. Special pills 
(mathre), prepared at considerable cost, are sometimes 
kept by Vaidyans, and passed on from generation to 
generation as heirlooms. Such pills are usually intended 
for well-known specific diseases. These pills are used 
in very minute quantities, and consequently last for a 
long time. A drop of honey or butter is placed on a 
slab of sandstone, on which the pill is rubbed. The 
honey or butter is then administered to the patient. A 
standing rule of the Vaidyan is to keep his patient on 
a very low diet, such as rice gruel without salt. His 
usual saying is " Langanam paramoushadam," i.e., 
fasting is an excellent medicine. A well-known treat- 
ment in cases of jaundice is the drinking of curds, 


in which twigs of Phyllanthus Niruri have been well 

In a very interesting note * on couching of the lens as 
practiced by native practitioners, Major R, H. Elliot, 
I. M.S., writes as follows. " The ignorance and stupidity 
of the ryot (villager) is so great that he will not very 
infrequently try one eye in an English hospital, and one 
in a Vaithyan's hands. It is a very common thing for a 
native patient to deny ever having visited a native doctor, 
when he first comes to hospital. After the other eye 
has been successfully operated on, he will sometimes own 
up to the fact . . . Here in the south, there appear 
to be two classes of operators, the resident men who 
live for long periods in one bazaar, and the travellers 
who move continuously from place to place. Both are 
Mahomedans. The former appear to get somewhat 
better results than the latter, and are spoken of as ' men of 
experience.' The latter seem never to stop long in one 
place. They collect a number of victims, operate on them, 
and then move on before their sins can find them out. 
Both kinds of operators seem to be innocent of any 
attempt at securing asepsis or antisepsis ; they use a 
dirty needle or a sharp wooden skewer ; no anaesthetic is 
employed ; a bandage is kept on for ten days, and 
counter-irritation is freely resorted to, to combat iritis, 
etc. Many of the victims are ashamed to come to a 
European hospital after the failure of their hopes. 
It has been said that, if the Vaithyan did not get good 
results, he would be dropped, and the practice would die 
out. This remark can only have come from one who 
knew nothing of the Indian character, or the crass 
ignorance of the lower classes of the people. It is hard 

* Indian Medical Gazette, XLI, 8, 1906. 


for those who have not lived and worked among them to 
realise how easily the ryot falls a dupe to impudent self- 
advertisement. He is a simple kindly person, whose 
implicit trust in confident self-assertion will bring him to 
grief for many another generation. The vision of these 
poor unfortunate people sitting down in a dusty bazaar to 
let an ignorant charlatan thrust a dirty needle into their 
blind eyes has evoked the indignation of the English 
surgeon from the time of our first occupation of the 
country. Side by side with a well-equipped English 
hospital, which turns out its ninety odd per cent, of 
useful vision, there sits in the neighbouring bazaar even 
to-day the charlatan, whose fee is fixed at anything from 
id. to 8 shillings, plus, in every case, a fowl or other 
animal. The latter is ostensibly for sacrificial purposes, 
but I understand ends uniformly in the Vaithyan's curry- 
pot. Weirdest, perhaps, of all the Vaithyan's methods is 
the use of the saffron-coloured rag, with which pus is 
wiped away from the patient's inflamed eye. On this 
colour, the pus, etc., cannot be seen, and therefore all 
is well. It is the fabled ostrich again, only this time in 
real life, with vital interests at stake." 

It is noted * in connection with the various classes of 
Nambutiri Brahmans that " the Vaidyans or physicians, 
known as Mussads, are to study the medical science, and 
to practice the same. As the profession of a doctor neces- 
sitates the performance of surgical operations entailing 
the shedding of blood, the Mussads are considered as 
slightly degraded." 

Further information concerning native medicine- 
men will be found in the articles on Kusavans and 

* Cochin Census Report, 1901. 


Vaikhanasa.— Followers of the Rishi Vaikhanasa. 
They are Archaka Brahman priests in the Telugu 

Vairavan Kovil.— An exogamous section or kovil 
(temple) of Nattukottai Chetti. 

Vairavi.^The equivalent of Bairagi or Vairagi. 
Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1 901, as "a 
sub-caste of Pandaram. They are found only in the 
Tinnevelly district, where they are measurers of grain, 
and pujaris in village temples." In the Madura district, 
Vairavis are members of the Melakkaran caste, who 
officiate as servants at the temples of the Nattukottai 

Vaisya.— Vaisya is the third of the traditional castes 
of Manu. *' It is," Mr. Francis writes,* "doubtful 
whether there are any true Dravidian Vaisyas, but some 
of the Dravidian trading castes (with the title Chetti), 
notably the Komatis, are treated as Vaisyas by the 
Brahmans, though the latter do not admit their right to 
perform the religious ceremonies which are restricted by 
the Vedas to the twice-born, and require them to follow 
only the Puranic rites. The Muttans (trading caste in 
Malabar) formerly claimed to be Nayars, but recently 
they have gone further, and some of them have returned 
themselves as Vaisyas, and added the Vaisya title of 
Gupta to their names. They do not, however, wear the 
sacred thread or perform any Vedic rites, and Nayars 
consider themselves polluted by their touch." Some 
Vellalas and Nattukottai Chettis describe themselves 
as being Bhu (earth) Vaisyas, and some Gollas claim to 
be regarded as Go (cow) Vaisyas.* Some Ganigas and 
Nagartas call themselves Dharmasivachar Vaisyas, t and, 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. f Mysore Census Report, 1891. 


like the Canarese Ganigas (oil-pressers), the Tamil oil- 
pressers (Vaniyan) claim to rank as Vaisyas. Vaisya 
Brahman is noted * as being a curious hybrid name, by 
which the Konkani Vanis (traders) style themselves. A 
small colony of *' Baniyans," who call themselves Jain 
Vaisyas, is said t to have settled in Native Cochin. 
Vaisya is recorded as the caste of various title-holders, 
whose title is Chetti or Chettiyar, in the Madras 
Quarterly Civil List. 

Vajjira (diamond). — An exogamous sept of Toreya. 

Vakkaliga. — See Okkiliyan. 

Valagadava. — An occupational name for various 
classes in South Canara, e.^., Sappaligas, Mogilis, and 
Patramelas, who are engaged as musicians. 

Valai (net). — The name, said to indicate those 
who hunt with nets, of a section of Paraiyans. The 
Ambalakkarans, who are also called Valaiyans, claim 
that, when Siva's ring was swallowed by a fish in the 
Ganges, one of their ancestors invented the first net 
made in the world. 

Valaiyal.— A sub-division of Kavarai, i.e., the Tamil 
equivalent of Gazula (glass bangle) Balija. 

Valaiyan. — The Valaiyans are described, in the 
Manual of Madura district (1868), as "alow and debased 
class. Their name is supposed to be derived from valai 
a net, and to have been given to them from their being 
constantly employed in netting game in the jungles. 
Many of them still live by the net ; some catch fish ; 
some smelt iron. Many are engaged in cultivation, as 
bearers of burdens, and in ordinary cooly work. The 
tradition that a Valaiya woman was the mother of the 
Vallambans seems to show that the Valiyans must be 

• Madras Census Report, 1901. 

t N. Sankuni Wariar, Ind. Ant. XXI, 1892. 








one of the most ancient castes in the country." In the 
Tanjore Manual they are described as " inhabitants of 
the country inland who live by snaring birds, and fishing 
in fresh waters. They engage also in agricultural labour 
and cooly work, such as carrying loads, husking paddy 
(rice), and cutting and selling fire-wood. They are a poor 
and degraded class." The Valaiyans are expert at making 
cunningly devised traps for catching rats and jungle fowl. 
They have " a comical fairy-tale of the origin of the war, 
which still goes on between them and the rat tribe. It 
relates how the chiefs of the rats met in conclave, and 
devised the various means for arranging and harassing the 
enemy, which they still practice with such effect." ^ The 
Valaiyans say that they were once the friends of Siva, 
but were degraded for the sin of eating rats and frogs. 

In the Census Report, 1901, the Valaiyans are 
described as " a shikari (hunting) caste in Madura 
and Tanjore. In the latter the names Ambalakaran, 
Servaikaran, Vedan, Siviyan, and Kuruvikkaran are 
indiscriminately applied to the caste." There is some 
connection between Ambalakarans, Muttiriyans, Muira- 
chas, Uralis, Vedans, Valaiyans, and Vettuvans, but in 
what it exactly consists remains to be ascertained. It 
seems likely that all of them are descended from one 
common parent stock. Ambalakarans claim to be 
descended from Kannappa Nayanar, one of the sixty- 
three Saivite saints, who was a Vedan or hunter by 
caste. In Tanjore the Valaiyans declare themselves to 
have a similar origin, and in that district Ambalakaran 
and Muttiriyan seem to be synonymous with Valaiyan. 
Moreover, the statistics of the distribution of the 
Valaiyans show that they are numerous in the districts 

* Gazetteer of the Madura district. 


where Ambalakarans are few, and vice versd, which looks 
as though certain sections had taken to calling themselves 
Ambalakarans. The upper sections of the Ambalakarans 
style themselves Pillai, which is a title properly belonging 
to Vellalas, but the others are usually called Muppan in 
Tanjore, and Ambalakaran, Muttiriyan, and Servaikaran 
in Trichinopoly. The usual title of the Valaiyans, so 
far as I can gather, is Muppan, but some style themselves 
Servai and Ambalakaran." 

The Madura Valaiyans are said * to be " less 
brahmanised than those in Tanjore, the latter employing 
Brahmans as priests, forbidding the marriage of widows, 
occasionally burning their dead, and being particular 
what they eat. But they still cling to the worship of all 
the usual village gods and goddesses." In some places, 
it is said, t the Valaiyans will eat almost anything, 
including rats, cats, frogs and squirrels. 

Like the Pallans and Paraiyans, the Valaiyans, in 
some places, live in streets of their own, or in settlements 
outside the villages. At times of census, they have 
returned a large number of sub-divisions, of which the 
following may be cited as examples : — 

Monathinni. Those who eat the vermin of the soil. 

Pasikatti (pasi, glass bead). 

Saragu, withered leaves. 

Vanniyan. Synonym of the Palli caste. 

Vellamputtu, white-ant hill. 
In some places the Saruku or Saragu Valaiyans 
have exogamous kilais or septs, which, as among the 
Maravans and Kalians, run in the female line. Brothers 
and sisters belong to the same kilai as that of their 
mother and maternal uncle, and not of their father. 

• Madras Census Report, 1901. t Ibid,, 1891. 


It is stated, In the Gazetteer of the Madura district, 
that " the Valaiyans are grouped into four endogamous 
sub-divisions, namely, Vahni, Valattu, Karadi, and 
Kangu. The last of these is again divided into Pasikatti, 
those who use a bead necklet instead of a tali (as a 
marriage badge), and Karaikatti, those whose women 
wear horsehair necklaces like the Kalians. The caste 
title is Muppan. Caste matters are settled by a head- 
man called the Kambliyan (blanket man), who lives at 
Aruppukottai, and comes round in state to any village 
which requires his services, seated on a horse, and 
accompanied by servants who hold an umbrella over his 
head and fan him. He holds his court seated on a 
blanket. The fines imposed go in equal shares to the 
aramanai (literally palace, i.e., to the headman himself), 
and to the oramanai, that is, the caste people. 

It is noted by Mr. F. R. Hemingway that "the 
Valaiyans of the Trichinopoly district say that they have 
eight endogamous sub-divisions, namely, Sarahu (or 
Saragu), Ettarai Koppu, Tanambanadu or Valuvadi, 
Nadunattu or Asal, Kurumba, Vanniya, Ambunadu, and 
Punal. Some of these are similar to those of the 
Kalians and Ambalakarans." 

In the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, it is recorded 
that the Valaiyans are said to possess " endogamous 
sub-divisions called Vedan, Sulundukkaran and Amba- 
lakkaran. The members of the first are said to be 
hunters, those of the second torch-bearers, and those of 
the last cultivators. They are a low caste, are refused 
admittance into the temples, and pollute a Vellalan by 
touch. Their occupations are chiefly cultivation of a 
low order, cooly work, and hunting. They are also said 
to be addicted to crime, being employed by Kalians as 
their tools." 



Adult marriage is the rule, and the consent of the 
maternal uncle is necessary. Remarriage of widows 
is freely permitted. At the marriage ceremony, the 
bridegroom's sister takes up the tali (marriage badge), 
and, after showing it to those assembled, ties it tightly 
round the neck of the bride. To tie it loosely so that the 
tali string touches the collar-bone would be considered a 
breach of custom, and the woman who tied it would be 
fined. The tali- tying ceremony always takes place at 
night, and the bridegroom's sister performs it, as, if it was 
tied by the bridegroom, it could not be removed on his 
death, and replaced if his widow wished to marry again. 
Marriages generally take place from January to May, 
and consummation should not be effected till the end 
of the month Adi, lest the first child should be born 
in the month of Chithre, which would be very inaus- 
picious. There are two Tamil proverbs to the effect 
that " the girl should remain in her mother's house during 
Adi," and " if a child is born in Chithre, it is ruinous to 
the house of the mother-in-law." 

In the Gazetteer of the Madura district, it is stated 
that " at weddings, the bridegroom's sister ties the tali, 
and then hurries the bride off to her brother's house, 
where he is waiting. When a girl attains maturity, she is 
made to live for a fortnight in a temporary hut, which she 
afterwards burns down. While she is there, the little 
girls of the caste meet outside it, and sing a song 
illustrative of the charms of womanhood, and its power of 
alleviating the unhappy lot of the bachelor. Two of the 
verses say : — 

What of the hair of a man ? 

It is twisted, and matted, and a burden. 

What of the tresses of a woman ? 

They are as flowers in a garland, and a glory. 


What of the life of a man ? 

It is that of the dog at the palace gate. 

What of the days of a woman ? 

They are like the gently waving leaves in a festoon. 

" Divorce is readily permitted on the usual payments, 
and divorcees and widows may remarry. A married 
woman who goes astray is brought before the Kambliyan, 
who delivers a homily, and then orders the man's waist- 
string to be tied round her neck. This legitimatises any 
children they may have." The Valaiyans of Pattukkottai 
in the Tanjore district say that intimacy between a man 
and woman before marriage is tolerated, and that the 
children of such a union are regarded as members of the 
caste, and permitted to intermarry with others, provided 
the parents pay a nominal penalty imposed by the caste 

In connection with the Valaiyans of the Trichinopoly 
district, Mr. Hemingway writes that "they recognise 
three forms of marriage, the most usual of which consists 
in the bridegroom's party going to the girl's house with 
three marakkals of rice and a cock on an auspicious day, 
and in both parties having a feast there. Sometimes 
the young man's sister goes to the girl's house, ties a 
tali round her neck, and takes her away. The ordinary 
form of marriage, called big marriage, is sometimes used 
with variations, but the Valaiyans do not like it, and say 
that the two other forms result in more prolific unions. 
They tolerate unchastity before marriage, and allow 
parties to marry even after several children have been 
born, the marriage legitimatising them. They permit 
remarriage of widows and divorced women. Women 
convicted of immorality are garlanded with erukku 
(Caloiropis gigantea) flowers, and made to carry a basket 
of mud round the village. Men who too frequently 


offend in this respect are made to sit with their toes tied 
to the neck by a creeper. When a woman is divorced, 
her male children go to the husband, and she is allowed 
to keep the girls." 

The tribal gods of the Valaiyans are Singa Pidari 
(Aiyanar) and Padinettampadi Karuppan. Once a year, 
on the day after the new-moon in the month Masi 
(February to March), the Valaiyans assemble to worship 
the deity. Early in the morning they proceed to, the 
Aiyanar temple, and, after doing homage to the god, go 
off to the forest to hunt hares and other small game. 
On their return they are met by the Valaiyan matrons 
carrying coloured water or rice (alam), garlands of 
flowers, betel leaves and areca nuts. The alam is waved 
over the men, some of whom become inspired and are 
garlanded. While they are under inspiration, the mothers 
appeal to them to name their babies. The products of 
the chase are taken to the house of the headman and 
distributed. At a festival, at which Mr. K. Rangachari 
was present, at about ten o'clock in the morning all the 
Valaiya men, women, and children, dressed up in holiday 
attire, swarmed out of their huts, and proceeded to a 
neighbouring grove. The men and boys each carried 
a throwing stick, or a digging stick tipped with iron. 
On arrival at the grove, they stood in a row, facing east, 
and, throwing down their sticks, saluted them, and 
prostrated themselves before them. Then all took up 
their sticks, and some played on reed pipes. Some of 
the women brought garlands of flowers, and placed them 
round the necks of four men, who for a time stood holding 
in their hands their sticks, of which the ends were 
stuck in the ground. After a time they began to 
shiver, move quickly about, and kick those around them. 
Under the influence of their inspiration, they exhibited 

:^79 VALAIVaN 

remarkable physical strength, and five or six men could 
not hold them. Calling various people by name, they 
expressed a hope that they would respect the gods, 
worship them, and offer to them pongal (boiled rice) 
and animal sacrifices. The women brought their babies 
to them to be named. In some places, the naming of 
infants is performed at the Aiyanar temple by any one 
who is under the influence of inspiration. Failing such 
a one, several flowers, each with a name attached to it, 
are thrown in front of the idol. A boy, or the pujari 
(priest) picks up one of the flowers, and the infant 
receives the name which is connected with it. 

The Valaiyans are devoted to devil worship, and, 
at Orattanadu in the Tanjore district, every Valaiyan 
backyard is said to contain an odiyan [Odina Wodier) 
tree, in which the devil is supposed to live.* It is noted 
by Mr. W. Francis t that "certain of the Valaiyans 
who live at Ammayanayakkanur are the hereditary 
pujaris to the gods of the Sirumalai hills. Some of 
these deities are uncommon, and one of them, Pappa- 
rayan, is said to be the spirit of a Brahman astrologer 
whose monsoon forecast was falsified by events, and who, 
filled with a shame rare in unsuccessful weather prophets, 
threw himself off a high point on the range." 

According to Mr. Hemingway, the Valaiyans have a 
special caste god, named Muttal Ravuttan, who is the 
spirit of a dead Muhammadan, about whom nothing 
seems to be known. 

The dead are as a rule buried with rites similar to 
those of the Kalians and Agamudaiyans. The final 
death ceremonies (karmandhiram) are performed on the 
sixteenth day. On the night of the previous day, a vessel 

• Gazetteer of the Tanjore district. f Gazetteer of the Madura district. 


filled with water is placed on the spot where the deceased 
breathed his last, and two cocoanuts, with the pores 
('eyes') open, are deposited near it. On the following 
morning, all proceed to a grove or tank (pond). The 
eldest son, or other celebrant, after shaving and bathing, 
marks out a square space on the ground, and, placing a 
few dry twigs of Ficus religiosa and Ficus bengalensis 
therein, sets fire to them. Presents of rice and other 
food-stuffs are given to beggars and others. The 
ceremony closes with the son and sapindas, who have to 
observe pollution, placing new cloths on their heads. 
Mr. Francis records that, at the funeral ceremonies, 
" the relations go three times round a basket of grain 
placed under a pandal (booth), beating their breasts and 
singing :— 

For us the kanji (rice gruel) : kailasam (the abode 
of Siva) for thee ; 

Rice for us ; for thee Svargalokam, 
and then wind turbans round the head of the deceased's 
heir, in recognition of his new position as chief of the 
family. When a woman loses her husband, she goes 
three times round the village mandai (common), with a 
pot of water on her shoulder. After each of the first two 
journeys, the barber makes a hole in the pot, and at the 
end of the third he hurls down the vessel, and cries out 
an adjuration to the departed spirit to leave the widow 
and children in peace." It is noted, in the Gazetteer of 
the Tanjore district, that " one of the funeral ceremonies 
is peculiar, though it is paralleled by practices among 
the Paraiyans and Karaiyans. When the heir departs 
to the burning-ground on the second day, a mortar is 
placed near the outer door of his house, and a lamp is lit 
inside. On his return, he has to upset the mortar, and 
worship the light." 

28 1 VALAN 

Yalan.— For the following note on the Valan and 
Katal Arayan fishing castes of the Cochin State, I am 
indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyar. 

The name Valan is derived from vala, meaning fish 
in a tank. Some consider the word to be another form 
of Valayan, which signifies a person who throws a net 
for fishing. According to the tradition and current 
belief of these people, they were brought to Kerala by 
Farasurama for plying boats and conveying passengers 
across the rivers and backwaters on the west coast. 
Another tradition is that the Valans were Arayans, and 
they became a separate caste only after one of the 
Perumals had selected some of their families for boat 
service, and conferred on them special privileges. They 
even now pride themselves that their caste is one of 
remote antiquity, and that Vedavyasa, the author of the 
Puranas, and Guha, who rendered the boat service to 
the divine Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana, across the 
Ganges in the course of their exile to the forest, were 
among the caste-men. 

There are no sub-divisions in the caste, but the 
members thereof are said to belong to four exogamous 
illams (houses of Nambutiris), namely, Alayakad, Ennalu, 
Vaisyagiriam, and Vazhapally, which correspond to the 
gotras of the Brahmans, or to four clans, the members of 
each of which are perhaps descended from a common 
ancestor. According to a tradition current among them, 
they were once attached to the four Nambutiri illams 
above mentioned for service of some kind, and were 
even the descendants of the members of the illams, but 
were doomed to the present state of degradation on 
account of some misconduct. Evidently, the story is 
looked up to to elevate themselves in social status. I 
am inclined to believe that they must have been the Atiyars 

VALAN 282 

(slaves) of the four aforesaid Brahman families, owing a 
kind of allegiance (nambikooru) like the Kanakkans to 
the Chittur Manakkal Nambutripad in Perumanam of 
the Trichur taluk. Even now, these Brahman families 
are held in great respect by the Valans, who, when 
afflicted with family calamities, visit the respective 
illams with presents of a few packets of betel leaves and 
a few annas, to receive the blessings of their Brahman 
masters, which, according to their belief, may tend to 
avert them. 

The low sandy tract of land on each side of the 
backwater is the abode of these fishermen. In some 
places, more especially south of Cranganore, their houses 
are dotted along the banks of the backwater, often 
nearly hidden by cocoanut trees, while at intervals the 
white picturesque fronts of numerous Roman Catholic 
and Romo-Syrian churches are perceived. These houses 
are in fact mere flimsy huts, a few of which, occupied 
by the members of several families, may be seen huddled 
together in the same compound abounding in a growth 
of cocoanut trees, with hardly enough space to dry their 
fish and nets. In the majority of cases, the compounds 
belong to jenmis (landlords), who lease them out either 
rent-free or on nominal rent, and who often are so kind 
as to allow them some cocoanuts for their consumption, 
and leaves sufficient to thatch their houses. About ten 
per cent, of their houses are built of wood and stones, 
while a large majority of them are made of mud or 
bamboo framework, and hardly spacious enough to 
accommodate the members of the family during the 
summer months. Cooking is done outside the house, 
and very few take rest inside after hard work, for 
their compounds are shady and breezy, and they may 
be seen basking in the sun after midnight toil, or drying 

2^3 VALAN 

the nets or nsh. Their utensils are few, consisting 
of earthen vessels and enamel dishes, and their furni- 
ture of a few wooden planks and coarse mats to serve 
as beds. 

The girls of the Valans are married both before and 
after puberty, but the tali-kettu kalyanam (tali-tying 
marriage) is indispensable before they come of age, as 
otherwise they and their parents are put out of caste. 
Both for the tali-tying ceremony and for the real 
marriage, the bride and bridegroom must be of different 
illams or gotras. In regard to the former, as soon as 
an auspicious day is fixed, the girl's party visit the 
Aravan with a present of six annas and eight pies, 
and a few packets of betel leaves, when he gives his 
permission, and issues an order to the Ponamban, his 
subordinate of the kadavu (village), to see that the 
ceremony is properly conducted. The Ponamban, the 
bridegroom and his party, go to the house of the bride. 
At the appointed hour, the Ponambans and the castemen 
of the two kadavus assemble after depositing six annas 
and eight pies in recognition of the presence of the 
Aravan, and the tali is handed over by the priest to the 
bridegroom, who ties it round the neck of the bride 
amidst the joyous shouts of the multitude assembled. 
The ceremony always takes place at night, and the festi- 
vities generally last for two days. It must be understood 
that the tali tier is not necessarily the husband of the 
girl, but is merely the pseudo-bridegroom or pseudo- 
husband, who is sent away with two pieces of cloth and 
a few annas at the termination of the ceremony. Should 
he, however, wish to have the girl as his wife, he should, 
at his own expense, provide her with a tali, a wedding 
dress, and a few rupees as the price of the bride. 
Generally it is the maternal uncle of the girl who 

VALAN 284 

provides her with the first two at the time of the 

The actual marriage is more ceremonial in its nature. 
The maternal uncle, or the father of a young Valan who 
wishes to marry, first visits the girl, and, if he approves 
of the match for his nephew or son, the astrologer is 
consulted so as to ensure that the horoscopes agree. If 
astrology does not stand in the way, they forthwith 
proceed to the girl's house, where they are well enter- 
tained. The bride's parents and relatives return the 
visit at the bridegroom's house, where they are likewise 
treated to a feast. The two parties then decide on a day 
for the formal declaration of the proposed union. On 
that day, a Valan from the bridegroom's village, seven 
to nine elders, and the Ponamban under whom the 
bride is, meet, and, in the presence of those assembled, a 
Valan from each party deposits on a plank four annas 
and a few betel leaves in token of enangu mattam or 
exchange of co-castemen from each party for the due 
fulfilment of the contract thus publicly entered into. 
Then they fix the date of the marriage, and retire from 
the bride's house. On the appointed day, the bride- 
groom's party proceed to the bride's house with two 
pieces of cloth, a rupee or a rupee and a half, rice, 
packets of betel leaves, etc. The bride is already 
dressed and adorned in her best, and one piece of cloth, 
rice and money, are paid to her mother as the price of 
the bride. After a feast, the bridal party go to the 
bridegroom's house, which is entered at an auspicious 
hour. They are received at the gate with a lamp and 
a vessel of water, a small quantity of which is sprinkled 
on the married couple. They are welcomed by the 
seniors of the house and seated together, when sweets 
are given, and the bride is formally declared to be a 

285 VALAN 

member of the bridegroom's family. The ceremony 
closes with a feast, the expenses in connection with 
which are the same on both sides. 

A man may marry more than one wife, but no woman 
may enter into conjugal relations with more than one 
man. A widow may, with the consent of her parents, 
enter into wedlock with any member of her caste except 
her brothers-in-law, in which case her children by her 
first husband will be looked after by the members of his 
family. Divorce is effected by either party making an 
application to the Aravan, who has to be presented with 
from twelve annas to six rupees and a half according 
to the means of the applicant. The Aravan, in token 
of dissolution, issues a letter to the members of the 
particular village to which the applicant belongs, and, on 
the declaration of the same, he or she has to pay to his 
or her village castemen four annas. 

When a Valan girl comes of age, she is lodged in a 
room of the house, and is under pollution for four days. 
She is bathed on the fourth day, and the castemen 
and women of the neighbourhood, with the relatives 
and friends, are treated to a sumptuous dinner. There 
is a curious custom called theralikka, i.e., causing the 
girl to attain maturity, which consists in placing her 
in seclusion in a separate room, and proclaiming that 
she has come of age. Under such circumstances, the 
caste-women of the neighbourhood, with the washer- 
woman, assemble at the house of the girl, when the latter 
pours a small quantity of gingelly [Sesamum) oil on 
her head, and rubs her body with turmeric powder, after 
which she is proclaimed as having attained puberty. 
She is bathed, and lodged in a separate room as 
before, and the four days' pollution is observed. 
This custom, which exists also among other castes, 

VALAN 286 

is now being abandoned by a large majority of the 

In respect of inheritance, the Valans follow a 
system, which partakes of the character of succession 
from father to son, and from maternal uncle to nephew. 
The self-acquired property is generally divided equally 
between brothers and sons, while the ancestral property, 
if any, goes to the brothers. The great majority of the 
Valans are mere day-labourers, and the property usually 
consists of a few tools, implements, or other equipments 
of their calling. 

The Valans, like other castes, have their tribal 
organisation, and their headman (Aravan or Aravar) is 
appointed by thitturam or writ issued by His Highness 
the Raja. The Aravan appoints other social heads, 
called Ponamban, one, two, or three of whom are 
stationed at each desam (village) or kadavu. Before the 
development of the Government authority and the estab- 
lishment of administrative departments, the Aravans 
wielded great influence and authority, as they still do to 
a limited extent, not only in matters social, but also in 
civil and criminal disputes between members of the com- 
munity. For all social functions, matrimonial, funeral, 
etc., their permission has to be obtained and paid for. 
The members of the community have to visit their 
headman, with presents of betel leaves, money, and some- 
times rice and paddy (unhusked rice). The headman 
generally directs the proper conduct of all ceremonies by 
writs issued to the Ponambans under him. The Ponam- 
bans also are entitled to small perquisites on ceremonial 
occasions. The appointment of Aravan, though not 
virtually hereditary, passes at his death to the next 
qualified senior member of his family, who may be his 
brother, son, or nephew, but this rule has been violated 

28; VALAN 

by the appointment of a person from a different family. 
The Aravan has the honour of receiving from His 
Highness the Raja a present of two cloths at the Onam 
festival, six annas and eight pies on the Athachamayam 
day, and a similar sum for the Vishu. At his death, the 
ruler of the State sends a piece of silk cloth, a piece of 
sandal-wood, and about ten rupees, for defraying the 
expenses of the funeral ceremonies. 

The Valans profess Hinduism, and Siva, Vishnu, and 
the heroes of the Hindu Puranas are all worshipped. 
Like other castes, they entertain special reverence for 
Bhagavathi, who is propitiated with offerings of rice- 
flour, toddy, green cocoanuts, plantain fruits, and fowls, 
on Tuesdays and Fridays. A grand festival, called 
Kumbhom Bharani (cock festival), is held in the middle 
of March, when Nayars and low caste men offer up cocks 
to Bhagavathi, beseeching immunity from diseases during 
the ensuing year. In fact, people from all parts of Mala- 
bar, Cochin, and Travancore, attend the festival, and 
the whole country near the line of march rings with 
shouts of ** Nada, nada" (walk or march) of the pilgrims 
to Cranganore, the holy residence of the goddess. In 
their passage up to the shrine, the cry of " Nada, nada " 
is varied by unmeasured abuse of the goddess. The 
abusive language, it is believed, is acceptable to her, and, 
on arrival at the shrine, they desecrate it in every 
conceivable manner, in the belief that this too is accept- 
able. They throw stones and filth, howling volleys of 
abuse at the shrine. The chief of the Arayan caste, 
Koolimuttah Arayan, has the privilege of being the first 
to be present on the occasion. The image in the temple 
is said to have been recently introduced. There is a 
door in the temple which is apparently of stone, fixed in 
a half-opened position. A tradition, believed by Hindus 

VALAN 288 

and Christians, is attached to this, which asserts that 
St. Thomas and Bhagavathi held a discussion at PalHport 
about the respective merits of the Christian and Hindu 
reHgions. The argument became heated, and Bhaga- 
vathi, considering it best to cease further discussion, 
decamped, and, jumping across the Cranganore river, 
made straight for the temple. St. Thomas, not to be 
outdone, rapidly gave chase, and, just as the deity got 
inside the door, the saint reached its outside, and, setting 
his foot between it and the door-post, prevented its 
closure. There they both stood until the door turned to 
stone, one not allowing its being opened, and the other 
its being shut. 

Another important festival, which is held at Cranga- 
nore, is the Makara Vilakku, which falls on the first of 
Makaram (about the 15th January), during the night of 
which there is a good deal of illumination both in and 
round the temple. A procession of ten or twelve 
elephants, all fully decorated, goes round it several times, 
accompanied by drums and instrumental music. 

Chourimala lyappan or Sastha, a sylvan deity, whose 
abode is Chourimala in Travancore, is a favourite deity 
of the Valans. In addition, they worship thedemi-gods 
or demons Kallachan Muri and Kochu Mallan, who are 
ever disposed to do them harm, and who are therefore 
propitiated with offerings of fowls. They have a patron, 
who is also worshipped at Cranganore. The spirits of 
their ancestors are also held in great veneration by these 
people, and are propitiated with offerings on the new 
moon and Sankranthi days of Karkadakam, Thulam, and 

The most important festivals observed by the Valans 
in common with other castes are Mandalam Vilakku, 
Sivarathri, Vishu, Onam, and Desara. 

289 VALAN 

Mandalam Vilakku takes place during the last seven 
days of Mandalam (November to December). During 
this festival the Valans enjoy themselves with music and 
drum-beating during the day. At night, some of them, 
developing hysterical fits, profess to be oracles, with 
demons such as Gandharva, Yakshi, or Bhagavathi, 
dwelling in their bodies in their incorporeal forms. 
Consultations are held as to future events, and their 
advice is thankfully received and acted upon. Sacrifices 
of sheep, fowls, green cocoanuts, and plantain fruits are 
offered to the demons believed to be residing within, and 
are afterwards liberally distributed among the castemen 
and others present. 

The Sivarathri festival comes on the last day of 
Magha. The whole day and night are devoted to the 
worship of Siva, and the Valans, like other castes, go to 
Alvai, bathe in the river, and keep awake during the 
night, reading the Siva Purana and reciting his names. 
Early on the following morning, they bathe, and make 
offerings of rice balls to the spirits of the ancestors 
before returning home. 

The Valans have no temples of their own, but, on 
all important occasions, worship the deities of the temples 
of the higher castes, standing at a long distance from the 
outer walls of the sacred edifice. On important religious 
occasions, Embrans are invited to perform the Kalasam 
ceremony, for which they are liberally rewarded. A 
kalasam is a pot, which is filled with water. Mango 
leaves and dharba grass are placed in it. Vedic hymns 
are repeated, with one end of the grass in the water, and 
the other in the hand. Water thus sanctified is used for 
bathing the image. From a comparison of the religion 
of the Valans with that of allied castes, it may be safely 
said that they were animists, but have rapidly imbibed 

VALAN 290 

the higher forms of worship. They are becoming more 
and more literate, and this helps the study of the 
religious works. There are some among them, who 
compose Vanchipattu (songs sung while rowing) with 
plots from their Puranic studies. 

The Valans either burn or bury their dead. The 
chief mourner is either the son or nephew of the dead 
person, and he performs the death ceremonies as directed 
by the priest (Chithayan), who attends wearing a new 
cloth, turban, and the sacred thread. The ceremonies 
commence on the second, fifth, or seventh day, when the 
chief mourner, bathing early in the morning, offers pinda 
bali (offerings of rice balls) to the spirit of the deceased. 
This is continued till the thirteenth day, when the nearest 
relatives get shaved. On the fifteenth day, the castemen 
of the locality, the friends and relatives, are treated to a 
grand dinner, and, on the sixteenth day, another offering 
(mana pindam) is made to the spirit of the departed, and 
thrown into the backwater close by. Every day during 
the ceremonies, a vessel full of rice is given to the priest, 
who also receives ten rupees for his services. If the death 
ceremonies are not properly performed, the ghost of the 
deceased is believed to haunt the house. An astrologer 
is then consulted, and his advice is invariably followed. 
What is called Samhara Homam (sacred fire) is kept up, 
and an image of the dead man in silver or gold is 
purified by the recitation of holy mantrams. Another 
purificatory ceremony is performed, after which the 
image is handed over to a priest at the temple, with a 
rupee or two. This done, the death ceremonies are 

The ears of Valan girls are, as among some other 
castes, pierced when they are a year old, or even less, 
and a small quill, a piece ;of cotton thread, or a bit of 

291 VALAN 

wood, is inserted into the hole. The wound is gradually 
healed by the application of cocoanut oil. A piece of 
lead is then inserted in the hole, which is gradually 
enlarged by means of a piece of plantain, cocoanut, or 
palmyra leaf rolled up. 

The Valans are expert rowers, and possess the special 
privilege of rowing from Thripunathura the boat of His 
Highness the Raja for his installation at the Cochin 
palace, when the Aravan, with sword in hand, has to stand 
in front of him in the boat. Further, on the occasion of 
any journey of the Raja along the backwaters on occa- 
sions of State functions, such as a visit of the Governor 
of Madras, or other dignitary, the headman leads the way 
as an escort in a snake-boat rowed with paddles, and has 
to supply the requisite number of men for rowing the 
boats of the high official and his retinue. 

The Katal Arayans, or sea Arayans, who are also 
called Katakkoti, are lower in status than the Valans, 
and, like them, live along the coast. They were of great 
service to the Portuguese and the Dutch in their palmy 
days, acting as boatmen in transhipping their commodities 
and supplying them with fish. The Katal Arayans 
were, in former times, owing to their social degradation, 
precluded from travelling along the public roads. This 
disability was, during the days of the Portuguese 
supremacy, taken advantage of by the Roman Catholic 
missionaries, who turned their attention to the conversion 
of these poor fishermen, a large number of whom were 
thus elevated in the social scale. The Katal Arayans 
are sea fishermen. On the death of a prince of Malabar, 
all fishing is temporarily prohibited, and only renewed 
after three days, when the spirit of the departed is 
supposed to have had time enough to choose its abode 
without molestation. 


VALAN 292 

Among their own community, the Katal Arayans 
distinguish themselves by four distinct appellations, viz., 
Sankhan, Bharatan, Amukkuvan, and Mukkuvan, Of 
these, Amukkuvans do priestly functions. The castemen 
belong to four septs or illams, namely, Kattotillam, 
Karotillam, Chempotillam, and Ponnotillam. 

Katal Arayan girls are married both before and after 
puberty. The tali-tying ceremony, which is compulsory 
in the case of Valan girls before they come of age, is put 
off, and takes place along with the real marriage. The 
preliminary negociations and settlements thereof are 
substantially the same as those prevailing among the 
Valans. The auspicious hour for marriage is between 
three and eight in the morning, and, on the previous 
evening, the bridegroom and his party arrive at the 
house of the bride, where they are welcomed and treated 
to a grand feast, after which the guests, along with the 
bride and bridegroom seated somewhat apart, in a pandal 
tastefully decorated and brightly illuminated, are enter- 
tained with songs of the Velan (washerman) and his 
wife alluding to the marriage of Sita or Parvathi, in the 
belief that they will bring about a happy conjugal union. 
These are continued till sunrise, when the priest hands 
over the marriage badge to the bridegroom, who ties it 
round the neck of the bride. The songs are again 
continued for an hour or two, after which poli begins. 
The guests who have assembled contribute a rupee, 
eight annas, or four annas, according to their means, 
which go towards the remuneration of the priest, song- 
sters, and drummers. The guests are again sumptuously 
entertained at twelve o'clock, after which the bridegroom 
and his party return with the bride to his house. At the 
time of departure, or nearly an hour before it, the 
bridegroom ties a few rupees or a sovereign to a corner 

^9i VALAN 

of the bride's body-cloth, probably to induce her to 
accompany him. Just then, the bride-price, which is 
loi puthans, or Rs. 5-12-4, is paid to her parents. The 
bridal party is entertained at the bridegroom's house, 
where, at an auspicious hour, the newly married couple 
are seated together, and served with a few pieces of 
plantain fruits and some milk, when the bride is formally 
declared to be a member of her husband's family. If 
a girl attains maturity after her marriage, she is secluded 
for a period of eleven days. She bathes on the first, 
fourth, seventh, and eleventh days, and, on the last day 
the caste people are entertained with a grand feast, the 
expenses connected with which are met by the husband. 
The Katal Arayans rarely have more than one wife. 
A widow may, a year after the death of her husband, 
enter into conjugal relations with any member of the 
caste, except her brother-in-law. Succession is in the 
male line. 

The Katal Arayans have headmen (Aravans), whose 
duties are the same as those of the headmen of the 
Valans. When the senior male or female member of the 
ruling family dies, the Aravan has the special privilege 
of being the first successor to the masnad with his 
tirumul kazcha (nuzzer), which consists of a small 
quantity of salt packed in a plantain leaf with rope and 
a Venetian ducat or other gold coin. During the period 
of mourning, visits of condolence from durbar officials 
and sthanis or noblemen are received only after the 
Aravan's visit. When the Bhagavathi temple of Cranga- 
nore is defiled during the cock festival, Koolimutteth 
Aravan has the special privilege of entering the 
temple in preference to other castemen. 

The Katal Arayans profess Hinduism, and their 
modes of worship, and other religious observances, are 

VALAN 294 

the same as those of the Velans. The dead are either 
burnt or buried. The period of death pollution is 
eleven days, and the agnates are freed from it by a bath 
on the eleventh day. On the twelfth day, the castemen 
of the village, including the relatives and friends, are 
treated to a grand feast. The son, who is the chief 
mourner, observes the diksha, or vow by which he 
does not shave, for a year. He performs the sradha 
(memorial service) every year in honour of the dead. 

Some of the methods of catching fish at Cochin are 
thus described by Dr. Francis Day.* " Cast nets are 
employed from the shore, by a number of fishermen, 
who station themselves either in the early morning or 
in the afternoon, along the coast from 50 to 100 yards 
apart. They keep a careful watch on the water, and, on 
perceiving a fish rise sufficiently near the land, rush 
down and attempt to throw their nets over it. This is 
not done as in Europe by twisting the net round 
and round the head until it has acquired the necessary 
impetus, and then throwing it ; but by the person 
twirling himself and the net round and round at the 
same time, and then casting it. He not unfrequently 
gets knocked over by a wave. When fish are caught, 
they are buried in the sand, to prevent their tainting. 
In the wide inland rivers, fishermen employ cast nets in 
the following manner. Each man is in a boat, which is 
propelled by a boy with a bamboo. The fisherman has 
a cast net, and a small empty cocoanut shell. This last 
he throws into the river, about twenty yards before the 
boat, and it comes down with a splash, said to be done 
to scare away the crocodiles. As the boat approaches 
the place where the cocoanut shell was thrown, the 

• The land of the Permauls, or Cochin, its past and its present, 1863. 

295 VALAN 

man casts his net around the spot. This methodriis only 
for obtaining small fish, and as many as fifteen boats at 
a time are to be seen thus employed in one place, one 
following the other in rapid succession, some trying the 
centre, others the sides of the river. 

" Double rows of long bamboos, firmly fixed in the 
mud, are placed at intervals across the backwater, 
and on these nets are fixed at the flood tide, so 
that fish which have entered are unable to return to 
the sea. Numbers of very large ones are occasion- 
ally captured in this way. A species of Chinese nets is 
also used along the river's banks. They are about 
1 6 feet square, suspended by bamboos from each corner, 
and let down like buckets into the water, and then 
after a few minutes drawn up again. A piece of string, 
to which are attached portions of the white leaves 
of the cocoanut tree, is tied at short intervals along 
the ebb side of the net, which effectually prevents fish 
from going that way. A plan somewhat analogous is 
employed on a small scale for catching crabs. A net 
three feet square is supported at the four corners by two 
pieces of stick fastened crosswise. From the centre of 
these sticks where they cross is a string to pull it up 
by or let it down, and a piece of meat is tied to the 
middle of the net inside. This is let down from a wharf, 
left under water for a few minutes, and then pulled up. 
Crabs coming to feed are thus caught. 

" Fishing with a line is seldom attempted in the deep 
sea, excepting for sharks, rays, and other large fish. 
The hooks employed are of two descriptions, the 
roughest, although perhaps the strongest, being of 
native manufacture ; the others are of English make, 
denominated China hooks. The hook is fastened to a 
species of fibre called thumboo, said to be derived from 

valan 296 

a seaweed, but more probably from one of the species of 
palms. The lines are either hemp, cotton, or the fibre 
of the talipot palm [Caryota urens), which is obtained 
by maceration. In Europe they are called Indian gut. 

" Trolling from the shore at the river's mouth is 
only carried on of a morning or evening, during the 
winter months of the year, when the sea is smooth. 
The line is from 80 to 100 yards in length, and held 
wound round the left hand ; the hook is fastened to the 
line by a brass wire, and the bait is a live fish. The 
fisherman, after giving the line an impetus by twirling it 
round and round his head, throws it with great precision 
from 50 to 60 yards. A man is always close by with a 
cast net, catching baits, which he sells for one quarter 
of an anna each. This mode of fishing is very exciting 
sport, but is very uncertain in its results, and therefore 
usually carried on by coolies either before their day's 
work has commenced, or after its termination. 

" Fishing with a bait continues all day long in 
Cochin during the monsoon months, when work is 
almost at a standstill, and five or six persons may be 
perceived at each jetty, busily engaged in this occupa- 
tion. The Bagrus tribe is then plentiful, and, as it bites 
readily, large numbers are captured. 

" Fishing in small boats appears at times to be a 
dangerous occupation ; the small canoe only steadied 
by the paddle of one man seated in it looks as if it 
must every minute be swamped. Very large fish are 
sometimes caught in this way. Should one be hooked 
too large for the fisherman to manage, the man in 
the next boat comes to his assistance, and receives a 
quarter of the fish for his trouble. This is carried on 
all through the year, and the size of some of the Bagri 
is enormous. 

" Fish are shot in various ways, by a Chittagong 
bamboo, which is a hollow tube, down which the arrow 
is propelled by the marksman's mouth. This mode is 
sometimes very remunerative, and is followed by persons 
who quietly sneak along the shores, either of sluggish 
streams or of the backwater. Sometimes they climb up 
into trees, and there await a good shot. Or, during the 
monsoon, the sportsman quietly seats himself near some 
narrow channel that passes from one wide piece of water 
into another, and watches for his prey. Other fishermen 
shoot with bows and arrows, and again others with 
cross-bows, the iron arrow or bolt of which is attached 
by a line to the bow, to prevent its being lost. But 
netting fish, catching them with hooks, or shooting them 
with arrows, are not the only means employed for their 
capture. Bamboo labyrinths, bamboo baskets, and even 
men's hands alone, are called into use. 

" Persons fish for crabs in shallow brackish water, 
provided with baskets like those employed in Europe 
for catching eels, but open at both ends. The fishermen 
walk about in the mud, and, when they feel a fish move, 
endeavour to cover it with the larger end of the basket, 
which is forced down some distance into the mud, and 
the hand is then passed downward through the upper 
extremity, and the fish taken out. Another plan of 
catching them by the hand is by having two lines to 
which white cocoanut leaves are attached tied to the 
fisherman's two great toes, from which they diverge ; 
the other end of each being held by another man a 
good way off, and some distance apart. On these lines 
being shaken, the fish become frightened, and, strange as 
it may appear, cluster for protection around the man's 
feet, who is able to stoop down, and catch them with his 
hands, by watching his opportunity. 


" Bamboo labyrinths are common all along the back- 
water, in which a good many fish, especially eels and 
crabs, are captured. These labyrinths are formed of a 
screen of split bamboos, passing perpendicularly out 
of the water, and leading into a larger baited chamber. 
A dead cat is often employed as a bait for crabs. 
A string is attached to its body, and, after it has been in 
the water some days, it is pulled up with these Crustacea 
adherent to it. Persons are often surprised at crabs 
being considered unwholesome, but their astonishment 
would cease, if they were aware what extremely unclean 
feeders they are. 

" Fish are obtained from the inland rivers by poison- 
ing them, but this can only be done when the water is 
low. A dam is thrown across a certain portion, and the 
poison placed within it. It generally consists of Cocculus 
indicus (berries) pounded with rice ; croton oil seeds, etc." 

Valangai.— Valangai, Valangan, Valangamattan, or 
Balagai, meaning those who belong to the right-hand 
faction, has, at times of census, been returned as a sub- 
division, synonym or title of Deva-dasis, Holeyas, 
Nokkans, Panisavans, Paraiyans, and Saliyans. Some 
Deva-dasis have returned themselves as belonging to the 
left-hand (idangai) faction. 

Valayakara Chetti. — A Tamil synonym of Gazula 
Balijas who sell glass bangles. The equivalent Vala 
Chetti is also recorded. 

Valekara. — A Badaga form of Billekara or belted 
peon. The word frequently occurs in Badaga ballads. 
Taluk peons on the Nilgiris are called Valekaras. 

Vali Sugriva.— A synonym of the Lambadis, who 
claim descent from Vali and Sugriva, the two monkey 
chiefs of the Ramayana. 

Valinchiyan.— 5^^ Velakkattalavan. 


Valiyatan (valiya, great, tan, a title of dignity). — 
Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1 901, as a 
title of Nayar. 

Vallabarayan. — A title of Occhan. 

Vallamban. — The Vallambans are a small Tamil 
cultivating class living in the Tanjore, Trichinopoly, and 
Madura districts. They are said * to be " the offspring 
of a Vellalan and a Valaiya woman, now a small and 
insignificant caste of cultivators. Some of them assert 
that their ancestors were the lords of the soil, for whose 
sole benefit the Vellalans used to carry on cultivation. 
Tradition makes the Vellambans to have joined the 
Kalians in attacking and driving away the Vellalans. 
It is customary among the Vallambans, when demising 
land, to refer to the fact of their being descendants of the 
Vallambans who lost Vallam, i.e.^ the Vallama nadu in 
Tanjore, their proper country." Some Vallambans claim 
to be flesh-eating Vellalas, or to be superior to Kalians 
and Maravans by reason of their Vellala ancestry. They 
call themselves Vallamtotta Vellalas, or the Vellalas who 
lost Vallam, and say that they were Vellalas of Vallam 
in the Tanjore district, who left their native place in a 
time of famine. 

Portions of the Madura and Tanjore districts are 
divided into areas known as nadus, in each of which a 
certain caste, called the Nattar, is the predominant 
factor. For example, the Vallambans and Kalians are 
called the Nattars of the Palaya nadu in the Sivaganga 
zemindari of the Madura district. In dealing with the 
tribal affairs of the various castes inhabiting a particular 
nadu, the lead is taken by the Nattars, by whom certain 
privileges are enjoyed, as for example in the distribution 

* Manual of Ihe Madura district. 

VaLLambai^ 300 

to them, after the Brahman and zamindar, of the flowers 
and sacred ashes used in temple worship. For the 
purposes of caste council meetings the Vallambans collect 
together representatives from fourteen nadus, as they 
consider that the council should be composed of delegates 
from a head village and its branches, generally thirteen 
in number. 

It is noted by Mr. F. R. Hemingway that the Val- 
lambans ** speak of five sub-divisions, namely, Chenjinadu, 
Amaravatinadu, Palayanadu, Melnadu, and Kilnadu. 
The Mel and Kilnadu people intermarry, but are dis- 
tinguishable by the fact that the former have moustaches, 
and the latter have not. The women dress like the 
Nattukottai Chettis. Tattooing is not allowed, and 
those who practice it are expelled from the caste. The 
men generally have no title, but some who enjoy State 
service inams call themselves Ambalakaran. The Mel- 
nadu people have no exogamous divisions, though they 
observe the rule about Kovil Pangolis. The Kilnadus 
have exogamous kilais, karais, and pattams." As 
examples of exogamous septs, the following may be 
cited : — Solangal (Chola), Pandiangal (Pandyan), 
Nariangal (jackal), and Piliyangal (tiger). 

The headman of the Vallambans is referred to 
generally as the Servaikaran. The headman of a group 
of nadus is entitled Nattuservai, while the headman of a 
village is known as Or Servai, or simply Servai. 

Marriage is celebrated between adults, and the 
remarriage of widows is not objected to. It is stated * 
that " the maternal uncle's or paternal aunt's daughter 
is claimed as a matter of right by a boy, so that a boy 
of ten may be wedded to a mature woman of twenty or 

• Manual of the Madura district. 


twenty-five years, if she happens to be unmarried and 
without issue. Any elderly male member of the boy's 
family — his elder brother, uncle, or even his father — 
will have intercourse with her, and beget children, which 
the boy, when he comes of age, will accept as his own, 
and legitimatise." This system of marriage, in which 
there is a marked disparity in the ages of the contracting 
couple, is referred to in the proverb : " The tali should 
be tied at least by a log of wood." The marriage rites 
are as a rule non-Brahmanical, but in some well-to-do 
families the services of a Brahman purohit are enlisted. 
The presence of the Umbalakaran or caste headman at a 
marriage is essential. On the wedding day the contract- 
ing couple offer, at their homes, manaipongal (boiled 
rice), and the alangu ceremony is performed by waving 
coloured rice round them, or touching the knees, 
shoulders, and head with cakes, and throwing them over 
the head. The wrist-threads, consisting of a piece of 
old cloth dyed with turmeric, are tied on by the maternal 
uncle. Cooked rice and vegetables are placed in front 
of the marriage dais, and offered to the gods. Four betel 
leaves are given to the bridegroom, who goes round the 
dais, and salutes the four cardinal points of the compass 
by pouring water from a leaf. He then sits down on a 
plank on the dais, and hands the tali (marriage badge) to 
his sister. Taking the tali, she proceeds to the bride's 
house, where the bride, after performing the alangu 
ceremony, is awaiting her arrival. On reaching the 
house, she asks for the bride's presents, and one of her 
brothers replies that such a piece of land, naming one, 
is given as a dowry. The bridegroom's sister then 
removes the string of black and gold beads, such as is 
worn before marriage, from the bride's neck, and replaces 
it by the tali. The conch shell should be blown by 


women or children during the performance of manai- 
pongal, and when the tali is tied. The bride is conveyed 
to the house of the bridegroom, and sits with him on 
the dais while the relations make presents to them. 

The messenger who conveys the news of a death in 
the community is a Paraiyan. The corpse is placed 
within a pandal (booth) supported on four posts, which 
is erected in front of the house. Some paddy (unhusked 
rice) is poured from a winnow on to the ground, and rice 
is thrown over the face of the corpse. On the second day 
rice, and other articles of food, are carried by a barber to 
the spot where the corpse has been buried or burnt. If 
the latter course has been adopted, the barber picks out 
some of the remains of the bones, and hands them to 
the son of the deceased. On the third day, the widow 
goes round the pandal three times, and, entering within 
it, removes her tali string, and new clothes are thrown 
over her neck. On the sixteenth day the final death 
ceremonies (karmandhiram) are performed. A feast is 
given, and new cloths are tied on the heads of those 
under pollution. Pollution lasts for thirty days. 

The Vallambans profess to be Saivaites, but they 
consider Periya Nayaki of Velangkudi as their tribal 
goddess, and each nadu has its own special deity, such 
as Vembu Aiyanar, Nelliyandi Aiyanar, etc. In some 
places the tribal deity is worshipped on a Tuesday at a 
festival called Sevvai (Tuesday). On this day pots 
containing fermented rice liquor, which must have been 
made by the caste people and not purchased, are taken 
to the place of worship. On a Friday, those families 
which are to take part in the festival allow a quantity of 
paddy (rice) to germinate by soaking it in water, and on 
the following Tuesday flower spikes of the palmyra palm 
are added to the malted rice liquor in the pots. The 


pots of ordinary families may be placed in their houses, 
but those of the Umbalakarans and Servaikarans must 
be taken to the temple as representing the deity. Into 
these pots the flower spikes should be placed by some 
respected elder of the community. A week later, a small 
quantity of rice liquor is poured into other pots, which 
are carried by women to the temple car, round which they 
go three times. They then throw the liquor into a tank 
or pond. The pots of the Umbalakaran and Servai- 
karan must be carried by young virgins, or grown-up 
women who are not under menstrual pollution. One 
of the women who carries these pots usually becomes 
possessed by the village deity. At the time of the 
festival, cradles, horses, human figures, elephants, etc., 
made by the potter, are brought to the temple as votive 
offerings to the god. 

Valli Ammai Kuttam.— A synonym of the Kora- 
vas, meaning followers of Valli Ammai, the wife of the 
God Subrahmanya, whom they claim to have been a 
Korava woman. 

Vallodi.— The name denotes a settlement in the 
Valluvanad taluk of Malabar, and has been returned as 
a sub-division of Nayar and Samantan, to which the 
Raja of Valluvanad belongs. 

Valluvan.— The Valluvans are summed up by Mr. 
H. A. Stuart* as being "the priests of the Paraiyans 
and Pallans. Tiruvalluvar, the famous Tamil poet, 
author of the Kural, belonged to this caste, which is 
usually regarded as a sub-division of Paraiyans. It 
appears that the Valluvans were priests to the Pallava 
kings before the introduction of the Brahmans, and even 
for some time after itf In an unpublished Vatteluttu 

* Madras Census Report, 1891, and Manual of the North Arcot district. 
t See Divakaram and Chudamani Nikhandu. 


inscription, believed to be of the ninth century, the 
following sentence occurs ' Sri Velluvam Puvanavan, the 
Uvac'chan (Oc'chan) of this temple, will employ daily 
six men for doing the temple service.' Again, the Vallu- 
vans must have formerly held a position at least equal 
to that of the Vellalas, if the story that Tiruvalluva 
Nayanar married a Vellala girl is true.* He is said 
to have " refused to acknowledge the distinctions of 
caste, and succeeded in obtaining a Vellala woman as 
his wife, from whom a section of the Valluvans say it 
has its descent. As their ancestor amused himself in the 
intervals between his studies by weaving, they employ 
themselves in mending torn linen, but chiefly live by 
astrology, and by acting as priests of Paraiyans, and 
officiating at their funerals and marriages, though some 
refuse to take part in the former inauspicious ceremony, 
and leave the duty to those whom they consider impure 
Valluvans called Paraiya Tadas. Another section of the 
Valluvans is called Alvar Dasari or Tavadadhari (those 
who wear the necklace of tulsi beads). Both Saivites 
and Vaishnavites eat together, but do not intermarry. 
Unlike Paraiyans, they forbid remarriage of widows and 
even polygamy, and all males above twelve wear the 
sacred thread." According to one account, the Vallu- 
vans are the descendants of an alliance between a 
Brahman sage and a Paraiyan woman, whose children 
complained to their father of their lowly position. He 
blessed them, and told them that they would become 
very clever astrologers, and, in consequence, much 
respected. At the Travancore census, 1901, the Vallu- 
vans were defined as a sub-division of the Pulayas, for 
whom they perform priestly functions. 

• Sec Life of Tirnvalluvar, in Lazarus' edition of the Kural. 



•• Both men and women are employed as astrologers 
and doctors, and are often consulted by all classes of 
people. In many villages they have the privilege of 
receiving from each ryot a handful of grain during the 
harvest time." * Of three Valluvans, whom I inter- 
viewed at Coimbatore, one, with a flowing white beard, 
had a lingam wrapped up in a pink cloth round the neck, 
and a charm tied in a pink cloth round the right upper 
arm. Another, with a black beard, had a salmon- 
coloured turban. The third was wearing a discarded 
British soldier's tunic. All wore necklaces of rudraksha 
{^Elceocarpus Ganitrtts) beads, and their foreheads were 
smeared with oblong patches of sandal paste. Each 
of them had a collection of panchangams, or calendars 
for determining auspicious dates, and a bundle of palm 
leaf strips (ulla mudyan) inscribed with slokas for 
astrological purposes. Their professional duties included 
writing charms for sick people, preparing horoscopes, 
and making forecasts of good or evil by means of 
cabalistic squares marked on the ground. Some 
Valluvans would have us believe that those who offi- 
ciate as priests are not true Valluvans, and that 
the true Valluvan, who carries out the duties of an 
astrologer, will not perform priestly functions for the 
Paraiyans. ' 

The most important sub-divisions of the Valluvans, 
returned at times of census, are Paraiyan, Tavidadari, 
and Tiruvalluvan. From information supplied to me, I 
gather that there are two main divisions, called 
Arupathu Katchi (sixty house section) and Narpathu 
Katchi (forty house section). The former are supposed 
to be descendants of Nandi Gurukkal, and take his name 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 


as their gotra. The gotra of the latter is Sidambara 
Say ichya Ayyamgar. Sidambara, or C hidambaram, is the 
site of one of the most sacred Siva temples. The sub- 
division Alvar claims descent from Tiruppan Alvar, one of 
the twelve Vaishnava saints. In the Tanjore district, 
the Valluvans have exogamous septs or pattaperu, named 
after persons, e.g., Marulipichan, Govindazhvan, etc. 

The Valluvans include in their ranks both Vaish- 
navites and Saivites. The majority ot the latter, both 
males and females, wear the lingam. The affairs of the 
community are adjusted by a caste council and there are, 
in most places, two hereditary officers called Kolkaran 
and Kanakkan. 

At the betrothal ceremony the bride's money (pari- 
yam), betel, jewels, flowers, and fruit, are placed in the 
future bride's lap. The money ranges from seven to ten 
rupees if the bridegroom's village is on the same side of 
a river as the bride's, and from ten to twenty rupees if 
it is on the other side. A small sum of money, called 
uramurai kattu (money paid to relations) and panda 
varisai (money paid in the pandal), is also paid by the 
bridegroom's party for a feast of toddy to the relations. 
This is the proper time for settling caste disputes by the 
village council. On the wedding day, the milk-post, 
consisting of a green bamboo pole, is set up, and a 
number of pots, brought from the potter's house, are 
placed near it. On the dais are set four lamps, viz., an 
ordinary brass lamp, kudavilakku (pot light), alankara 
vilakku (ornamental light), and paligai vilakku (seedling 
light). The bride and bridegroom bring some sand, 
spread it on the floor near the dais, and place seven 
leaves on it. Cotton threads, dyed with turmeric, are 
tied to the pots and the milk-post. On the leaves are 
set cakes and rice, and the contracting couple worship 


the pots and the family gods. The Valluvan priest 
repeats a jumble of corrupt Sanskrit, and ties the kanka- 
nams (threads) on their wrists. They are then led into 
the house, and garlanded with jasmine or Nerium 
flowers. The pots are arranged on the dais, and the 
sand is spread thereon close to the milk-post. Into one 
of the pots the female relations put grain seedlings, and 
four other pots are filled with water by the bridegroom's 
party. A small quantity of the seedlings is usually 
wrapped up in a cloth, and placed over the seedling pot. 
Next morning the bundle is untied, and examined, to see 
if the seedlings are in good condition. If they are so, 
the bride is considered a worthy one ; if not, the bride is 
either bad, or will die prematurely. The usual nalagu 
ceremony is next performed, bride and bridegroom being 
anointed with oil, and smeared with Phaseolus Mungo 
paste. This is followed by the offering of food on eleven 
leaves to the ancestors and house gods. Towards even- 
ing, the dais is got ready for its occupation by the bridal 
couple, two planks being placed on it, and covered with 
cloths lent by a washerman. The couple, sitting on the 
planks, exchange betel and paddy nine or twelve times, 
and rice twenty -seven times. The priest kindles the 
sacred fire (homam), and pours some ghi (clarified butter) 
into it from a mango leaf. The bridegroom is asked 
whether he sees Arundati (the pole-star) thrice, and 
replies in the affirmative. The tali is shown the sky, 
smoked over burning camphor, and placed on a tray 
together with a rupee. After being blessed by those 
present, it is tied round the neck qf the bride by the 
bridegroom, who has his right leg on her lap. On 
the second day there is a procession through the 
village, and, on the following day, the wrist-threads are 

VII-20 B 


In some places, the Valluvans, at their marriages, like 
the Pallis and some other castes, use the pandamutti, or 
pile of pots reaching to the top of the pandal. 

The Saivite lingam wearers bury their dead in a 
sitting posture in a niche excavated in the side of the 
grave. After death has set in, a cocoanut is broken, and 
camphor burnt. The corpse is washed by relations, who 
bring nine pots of water for the purpose. The lingam 
is tied on to the head, and a cloth bundle, containing a 
rupee, seven bilva {/Egle Marmelos) leaves, nine twigs 
of the tulsi {^Ocimum sanctum), and nine Leucas aspera 
flowers, to the right arm. The corpse is carried to the 
grave on a car surmounted by five brass vessels. The 
grave is purified by the sprinkling of cow's urine and cow- 
dung water before the corpse is lowered into it. On the 
way to the burial-ground, the priest keeps on chanting 
various songs, such as " This is Kailasa. This is Kailasa 
thillai (Chidambaram). Our request is this. Nallia 
Mutthan of the Nandidarma gotra died on Thursday 
in the month Thai in the year Subakruthu. He must 
enter the fourth stage (sayichyam), passing through 
Salokam, Samipa, and Sarupa. He crosses the rivers 
of stones, of thorns, of fire, and of snakes, holding 
the tail of the bull Nandi. To enable him to reach 
heaven safely, we pound rice, and put lights of rice." 
The priest receives a fee for his services, which he 
places before an image made on the grave after it has 
been filled in. The money is usually spent in making 
a sacred bull, lingam, or stone slab, to place on the 
grave. On the third day after death, the female rela- 
tives of the deceased pour milk within the house into 
a vessel, which is taken by the male relatives to the 
burial-ground, and offered at the grave, which is 
cleaned. A small platform, made of mud, and composed 


of several tiers, decreasing in size from below upwards, 
is erected thereon, and surmounted by a lingam. At 
the north and south corners of this platform, a bull and 
paradesi (mendicant) made of mud are placed, and at 
each corner leaves are laid, on which the offerings in the 
form of rice, fruits, vegetables, etc., are laid. The final 
death ceremonies are celebrated on the seventeenth day. 
A pandal (booth) is set up, and closed in with cloths. 
Within it are placed a pot and five pestles and mortars, 
to which threads are tied. Five married women, taking 
hold of the pestles, pound some rice contained in the 
pot, and with the flour make a lamp, which is placed on 
a tray. The eldest son of the deceased goes, with the 
lamp on his head, to an enclosure having an entrance at 
the four cardinal points. The enclosure is either a per- 
manent one with mud walls, or temporary one made 
out of mats. Within the enclosure, five pots are set up 
in the centre, and four at each side. The pots are cleansed 
by washing them with the urine of cows of five different 
colours, red, white, black, grey, and spotted. Near the 
pots the articles required for puja (worship) are placed, 
and the officiating priest sits near them. The enclosure 
is supposed to represent heaven, and the entrances are 
the gates leading thereto, before which food is placed 
on leaves. The eldest son, with the lamp, stands at the 
eastern entrance, while Siva is worshipped. The priest 
then repeats certain stanzas, of which the following is 
the substance. " You who come like Siddars (attendants 
in the abode of Siva) at midnight, muttering Siva's name, 
why do you come near Sivapadam ? I will pierce you 
with my trident. Get away. Let these be taken to 
yamapuri, or hell." Then Siva and Parvati, hearing the 
noise, ask " Oh ! sons, who are you that keep on saying 
Hara, Hara? Give out truly your names and nativity." 


To which the reply is given " Oh ! Lord, I am a devotee 
of that Being who graced Markandeya, and am a Vira- 
saiva by faith. I have come to enter heaven. We have 
all led pure lives, and have performed acts of charity. 
So it is not just that we should be prevented from 
entering. Men who ill-treat their parents, or superiors, 
those addicted to all kinds of vice, blasphemers, mur- 
derers, perverts from their own faith and priests, and 
other such people, are driven to hell by the southern 
gate." At this stage, a thread is passed round the 
enclosure. The son, still bearing the lamp, goes from 
the eastern entrance past the south and western entrances, 
and, breaking the thread, goes into the enclosure through 
the northern entrance. The Nandikol (hereditary village 
official) then ties a cloth first round the head of the 
eldest son, and afterwards round the heads of the other 
sons and agnates. 

The Valluvans abstain from eating beef. Though 
they mix freely with the Paraiyans, they will not eat 
with them, and never live in the Paraiyan quarter. 

The Valluvans are sometimes called Pandaram or 
Valluva Pandaram. In some places, the priests of the 
Valluvans are Vellala Pandarams. 

Valluvan,— A small inferior caste of fishermen and 
boatmen in Malabar.* 

Valmika. — Valmika or Valmiki is a name assumed 
by the Boyas and Paidis, who claim to be descended from 
Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, who did penance 
for so long in one spot that a white-ant hill (valmikam) 
grew up round him. In a note before me, Valmiki is 
referred to as the Spenser of India. In the North 
Arcot Manual, Valmikulu, as a synonym of the Vedans, 

♦ Gazetteer of Malabar. 


is made to mean those who live on the products of 

Val Nambi.— Recorded, in the Madras Census 
Report, " a synonym for Mussad. Nambi is a title 
of Brahmans, and val means a sword. The tradition is 
that the name arose from the ancestors of the caste having 
lost some of the privileges of the Vedic Brahmans owing 
to their having served as soldiers when Malabar was ruled 
by the Brahmans prior to the days of the Perumals." 

Valuvadi.— The Valuvadis are returned, in the 
Madras Census Report, 1901, as cultivators in the 
Pudukottai State. I am informed that the Valuvadis are 
a section of the Valaiyan caste, to which the Zamindar 
of Nagaram belongs. The name Valuvadi was originally 
a title of respect, appended to the name of the Nagaram 
Zamindars. The name of the present Zamindar is Bala- 
subramanya Valuvadiar. Thirty years ago there is said 
to have been no Valuvadi caste. Some Valaiyans in 
prosperous circumstances, and others who became rela- 
tives of the Nagaram Zamindar by marriage, have 
changed their caste name, to show that they are superior 
in social status to the rest of the community. 

Vamme.^A gotra of Janappans, the members of 
which abstain from eating the fish called bombadai, 
because, when some of their ancestors went to fetch 
water in the marriage pot, they found a number of this 
fish in the water contained in the pot. 

Vana Palli.— A name, meaning forest Palli, assumed 
by some Irulas in South Arcot. 

Vandikkaran.— An occupational name for Nayars 
who work as cartmen (vandi, cart) for carrying fuel. 

Vandula or Vandi Raja. — A sub-division of 
Bhatrazu, named after one Vandi, who is said to have 
been a herald at the marriage of Siva. 

VANGU 312 

VangU (cave). — A sub-division of Irula. 

Vani.— "The Vanis or Bandekars," Mr. H. A. 
Stuart writes,* "have been wrongly classified in the 
census returns (1891) as oil-pressers ; they are in reality 
traders. They are said to have come from Goa, and 
they speak Konkani. Their spiritual guru is the head 
of the Kumbakonam math." In the Census Report, 
1 90 1, it is noted that Vani, meaning literally a trader, is 
a Konkani-speaking trading caste, of which Bandekara 
is a synonym. " They ape the Brahmanical customs, 
and call themselves by the curious hybrid name of 
Vaisya Brahmans." Hari Chetti has been returned as a 
further synonym. 

Vaniyan.— The Vaniyans are, Mr. Francis writes,! 
"oil-pressers among the Tamils, corresponding to the 
Telugu Gandlas, Canarese Ganigas, Malabar Chakkans, 
and Oriya Tellis. For some obscure reason, Manu 
classed oil-pressing as a base occupation, and all followers 
of the calling are held in small esteem, and, in Tinnevelly, 
they are not allowed to enter the temples. In conse- 
quence, however, of their services in lighting the temples 
(in token of which all of them, except the Malabar 
Vaniyans and Chakkans, wear the sacred thread), they 
are earning a high position, and some of them use the 
sonorous title of Joti Nagarattar (dwellers in the city of 
light) and Tiru-vilakku Nagarattar (dwellers in the city 
of holy lamps). They employ Brahmans as priests, 
practice infant marriage, and prohibit widow marriage, 
usually burn their dead, and decline to eat in the houses of 
any caste below Brahmans. However, even the washer- 
men decline to eat with them. Like the Gandlas they 
have two sub-divisions, Ottai-sekkan and Irattai-sekkan, 

* Manual of the South Canara District, 
t Madras Census Report, 1901. 


who use respectively one bullock and two bullocks in 
their mills. Oddly enough, the former belong to the 
right-hand faction, and the latter to the left. Their usual 
title is Chetti. The name Vanuvan has been assumed 
by Vaniyans, who have left their traditional occupation, 
and taken to the grain and other trades." 

"The word Vanijyam," Mr. H. A. Stuart informs 
us,* " signifies trade, and trade in oil, as well as its 
manufacture, is the usual employment of this caste, who 
assert that they are Vaisyas, and claim the Vaisya- 
puranam as their holy book. They are said to have 
assumed the thread only within the last fifty or sixty 
years, and are reputed to be the result of a yagam 
(sacrifice by fire) performed by a saint called Vakkuna 
Maharishi. The caste contains four sub-divisions called 
Kamakshiamma, Visalakshiamma, Ac'chu-tali, and 
Toppa-tali, the two first referring to the goddesses 
principally worshipped by each, and the two last to the 
peculiar kinds of talis, or marriage tokens, worn by their 
women. They have the same customs as the Beri 
Chettis, but are not particular in observing the rule 
which forbids the eating of flesh. A bastard branch of 
the Vaniyas is called the Pillai Kuttam, which is said 
to have sprung from the concubine of a Vaniyan, who 
lived many years ago. The members of this class are 
never found except where Vaniyans live, and are supposed 
to have a right to be fed and clothed by them. Should 
this be refused, they utter the most terrible curse, and, 
in this manner, eventually intimidate the uncharitable 
into giving them alms." In the Census Report, 1891, 
Mr. Stuart writes further that the Vaniyans "were 
formerly called Sekkan (oil-mill man), and it is curious 

♦ Manual of the North Arcot district. 


that the oil-mongers alone came to be called Vaniyan or 
trader. They have returned 126 sub-divisions, of which 
only one, Ilai Vaniyan, is numerically important. One 
sub-division is Iranderudu, or two bullocks, which refers 
to the use of two bullocks in working the mill. This 
separation of those who use two bullocks from those 
who employ only one is found in nearly every oil-pressing 
caste in India. The Vaniyans of Malabar resemble the 
Nayars in their customs and habits, and neither wear 
the sacred thread, nor employ Brahmans as priests. In 
North Malabar, Nayars are polluted by their touch, but 
in the south, where they are called Vattakadans, they 
have succeeded in forcing themselves into the ranks of the 
Nayar community. A large number of them returned 
Nayar as their main caste." In this connection, 
Mr. Francis states * that followers of the calling of oil- 
pressers (Chakkans) are " known as Vattakadans in 
South Malabar, and as Vaniyans in North Malabar ; but 
the former are the higher in social status, the Nayars 
being polluted by the touch of the Vaniyans and Chak- 
kans but not by that of the Vattakadans. Chakkans 
and Vaniyans may not enter Brahman temples. Their 
customs and manners are similar to those of the Nayars, 
who will not, however, marry their women." 

Of the Vaniyans of Cochin, it is stated in the Cochin 
Census Report, 1901, that "they are Vaisyas, and wear 
the sacred thread. In regard to marriage, inheritance, 
ceremonies, dress, ornaments, etc., there is practically no 
difference between them and the Konkanis. But, as 
they do not altogether abstain from meat and spirituous 
liquors, they are not allowed free access to the houses 
of Konkanis, nor are they permitted to touch their tanks 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. 


and wells. They are Saivites. They have their own 
priests, who are called Panditars. They observe birth 
and death pollution for ten days, and are like Brahmans 
in this respect. They are mostly petty merchants and 
shop-keepers. Some can read and write Malayalam, 
but they are very backward in English education." 

The oils expressed by the Vaniyans are said to be 
" gingelly [Sesamum indicum), cocoanut, iluppei {Bassia 
longifolia)y pinnei {^Calophyllum inophyllum), and 
ground-nut {Arachis hypogoed). According to the sastras 
the crushing of gingelly seeds, and the sale of gingelly 
oil, are sinful acts, and no one, who does not belong to 
the Vaniyan class, will either express or sell gingelly 

When a Vaniyan dies a bachelor, a post-mortem 
mock ceremony is performed as by the Ganigas, and 
the corpse is married to the arka plant {Calotropis 
gigantea), and decorated with a wreath made of the 
flowers thereof. 

Vankayala (brinjal or ^^^ plant : Solatium Melon- 
gena). — An exogamous sept of Golla. The fruit is eaten 
by Natives, and, stuffed with minced meat, is a common 
article of Anglo- Indian dietary. 

Vanki (armlet). — A gotra of Kurni. 

Vannan.— The Vannans are washermen in the Tamil 
and Malayalam countries. The name Vannan is, 
Mr. H. A. Stuart writes, f " derived from vannam, 
beauty. There is a tradition that they are descendants 
of the mythological hero Virabadra, who was ordered 
by Siva to wash the clothes of all men, as an expiation 
of the sin of putting many people to death in Daksha's 
Yaga. Hence the Tamil washermen are frequently 

* Manual of the Tanjore district. 

t Manual of the North Arcot district ; Madras Census Report, 1891. 


called Virabadran. Having to purify all the filthy linen 
of the villagers, they are naturally regarded as a low, 
unclean class of Sudras, and are always poor. They 
add to their income by hiring out the clothes of their 
customers to funeral parties, who lay them on the 
ground before the pall-bearers, so that these may not 
step upon the ground, and by letting them out on the 
sly to persons wishing to use them without having 
to purchase for themselves. In social standing the 
Vannans are placed next below the barbers. They 
profess to be Saivites in the southern districts, and 
Vaishnavi<:es in the north. The marriage of girls gene- 
rally takes place after puberty. Widow remarriage is 
permitted among some, if not all, sub-divisions. Divorce 
may be obtained by either party at pleasure on payment 
of double the bride-price, which is usually Rs. 10-8-0. 
They are flesh-eaters, and drink liquor. The dead are 
either burned or buried. The Pothara (or Podora) 
Vannans are of inferior status, because they wash only 
for Paraiyans, Pallans, and other inferior castes." 

It is noted, in the Madura Manual, that those who 
have seen the abominable substances, which it is the 
lot of the Vannans to make clean, cannot feel any 
surprise at the contempt with which their occupation 
is regarded. In the Tanjore Manual, it is recorded 
that, in the rural parts of the district, the Vannans are 
not allowed to enter the house of a Brahman or a 
Vellala ; clothes washed by them not being worn or 
mixed up with other clothes in the house until they have 
undergone another wash by a caste man. 

It is on record that, on one occasion, a party 
of Europeans, when out shooting, met a funeral proces- 
sion on its way to the burial-ground. The bier was 
draped in many folds of clean cloth, which one of the 


party recognised by the initials as one of his bed-sheets. 
Another identified as his sheet the cloth on which the 
corpse was lying. He cut off the corner with the 
initials, and a few days later the sheet was returned by 
the washerman, who pretended ignorance of the mutila- 
tion, and gave as an explanation that it must have been 
done, in his absence, by one of his assistants. On 
another occasion, a European met an Eurasian, in a 
village not far from his bungalow, wearing a suit of 
clothes exactly similar to his own, and, on close examina- 
tion, found they were his. They had been newly washed 
and dressed. 

The most important divisions numerically returned 
by Vannans at times of census are Pandiyan, Peru (big), 
Tamil, and Vaduga (notherner). It is recorded, in the 
Gazetteer of the Madura district, that Vannan " is rather 
an occupational term than a caste title, and, besides 
the Pandya Vannans or Vannans proper, includes the 
Vaduga Vannans or Tsakalas of the Telugu country, 
and the Palla, Pudara, and Tulukka Vannans, who wash 
for the Pallans, Paraiyans, and Musalmans respectively. 
The Pandya Vannans have a headman called the Periya 
Manishan (big man). A man can claim the hand of 
his paternal aunt's daughter. At weddings, the bride- 
groom's sister ties the tali (marriage badge). Nambis 
officiate. Divorce is freely allowed to either party on 
payment of twice the bride-price, and divorcees may 
marry again. The caste god is Gurunathan, in whose 
temples the pujari (priest) is usually a Vannan. The 
dead are generally burnt, and, on the sixteenth day, the 
house is purified from pollution by a Nambi." 

Some Vannans have assumed the name Irkuli Vellala, 
and Rajakan and Kattavaraya vamsam have also been 
recorded as synonyms of the caste name. 


The Vannans of Malabar are also called Mannan or 
Bannan. They are, Mr. Francis writes,* "a low class 
of Malabar washermen, who wash only for the polluting 
castes, and for the higher castes when they are under 
pollution following births, deaths, etc. It is believed by 
the higher castes that such pollution can only be removed 
by wearing clothes washed by Mannans, though at other 
times these cause pollution to them. The washing is 
generally done by the women, and the men are exorcists, 
devil-dancers and physicians, even to the higher castes. 
Their women are midwives, like those of the Velak- 
katalavan and Velan castes. This caste should not be 
confused with the Mannan hill tribe of Travancore." 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that " the 
Mannans, a makkattayam caste of South Malabar, appa- 
rently identical with the marumakkattayam Vannans of 
the north, are a caste of washermen ; and their services 
are indispensable to the higher castes in certain purifica- 
tory ceremonies when they have to present clean cloths 
(mattu). They are also devil-dancers and tailors. They 
practice fraternal polyandry in the south. Mannans are 
divided into two endogamous classes, Peru-mannans 
(peru, great), and Tinda-mannans (tinda, pollution); 
and, in Walavanad, into four endogamous classes called 
Choppan, Peru-mannan, Punnekadan, and Puliyakkodam. 
The Tinda-mannan and Puliyakkodam divisions perform 
the purificatory sprinklings for the others." 

The services of the Mannan, Mr. T. K. Gopal 
Panikkar writes,t "are in requisition at the Nayar 
Thirandukalianam ceremonies on the attainment of 
puberty by a girl, when they sing ballads, and have to 
bring, for the girl's use, the mattu or sacred dress. 

• Madras Census Report, 1901. f Malabar and its Folk, 1900. 


Then, on occasions of death pollution, they have a 
similar duty to perform. Among the Nayars, on the 
fourth, or rarely the third day after the menses, the 
woman has to use, during her bath, clothes supplied by 
Mannan females. The same duty they have to perform 
during the confinement of Nayar females. All the dirty 
cloths and bed sheets used, these Mannan females have 
to wash." Mr. S. Appadorai Iyer informs us that those 
Mannans who are employed by the Kammalan, or arti- 
san class, as barbers, are not admitted into the Mannan 
caste, which follows the more honourable profession of 
washing clothes. The Mannans perform certain cere- 
monies in connection with Mundian, the deity who is 
responsible for the weal or woe of cattle ; and, at Puram 
festivals, carry the vengida koda or prosperity umbrella, 
composed of many tiers of red, green, orange, black and 
white cloth, supported on a long bamboo pole, before the 

It is recorded by Bishop Whitehead * that, in various 
places in Malabar, there are temples in honour of 
Bhagavati, at which the pujaris (priests) are of the 
Vannan caste. " There is an annual feast called gurusi 
tarpanam (giving to the guru) about March, when the 
hot weather begins, and the people are at leisure. Its 
object is to appease the wrath of the goddess. During 
the festival, the pujari sits in the courtyard outside the 
temple, thickly garlanded with red flowers, and with red 
kunkuma marks on his forehead. Goats and fowls are 
then brought to him by the devotees, and he kills them 
with one blow of the large sacrificial sword or chopper. 
It is thought auspicious for the head to be severed at 
one blow, and, apparently, pujaris who are skilful in 

* Madras Dioc : Magazine, 1906. 


decapitation are much in request. When the head is cut 
off, the pujari takes the carcase, and holds it over a large 
copper vessel partly filled with water, turmeric, kunkuma, 
and a little rice, and lets the blood flow into it. When all 
the animals are killed, the pujari bales out the blood and 
water on the ground, uttering mantrams (sacred lines or 
verses) the while. The people stand a little way off. 
When the vessel is nearly empty, the pujari turns it 
upside down as a sign that the ceremony is ended. 
During these proceedings, a number of Vannans, dressed 
in fantastic costumes, dance three times round the 
temple. During the festival, processions are held round 
the various houses, and special swords with a curved 
hook at the end, called palli val (great or honourable 
sword), are carried by the worshippers. These swords 
are worshipped during the Dusserah festival in October, 
and, in some shrines, they form the only emblem of the 
deity. The Tiyans have small shrines in their own 
gardens sacred to the family deity, which may be 
Bhagavati, or some demon, or the spirit of an ancestor. 
Once a year, Vannans come dressed in fancy costume, 
with crowns on their heads, and dance round the court- 
yard to the sound of music and tom-toms, while a Tiyan 
priest presents the family offerings, uncooked rice and 
young cocoanuts, with camphor and incense, and then 
rice fried with sugar and ghi (clarified butter)." 

In an account of the Tiyans, Mr. Logan writes * that 
" this caste is much given to devil-charming, or devil- 
driving as it is often called. The washermen (Vannan) 
are the high priests of this superstition, and with chants, 
ringing cymbals, magic figures, and waving lights, they 
drive out evil spirits from their votaries of this caste at 

* Manual of Malabar. 


certain epochs in their married lives. One ceremony in 
particular, called teyyattam — a corrupt form of Deva 
and attam, that is, playing at gods — takes place occa- 
sionally in the fifth month of pregnancy. A leafy 
arbour is constructed, and in front of it is placed a 
terrible figure of Chamundi, the queen of the demons, 
made of rice flour, turmeric powder, and charcoal 
powder. A party of not less than eighteen washermen 
is organized to represent the demons and furies — Kutti- 
chattan (a mischievous imp), and many others. On 
being invoked, these demons bound on to the stage in 
pairs, dance, caper, jump, roar, fight, and drench each 
other with saffron (turmeric) water. Their capers and 
exertions gradually work up their excitement, until they 
are veritably possessed of the devil. At this juncture, 
fowls and animals are sometimes thrown to them, to 
appease their fury. These they attack with their teeth, 
and kill and tear as a tiger does his prey. After about 
twenty minutes the convulsions cease, the demon or 
spirit declares its pleasure, and, much fatigued, retires to 
give place to others ; and thus the whole night is spent, 
with much tom-tomming and noise and shouting, making 
it impossible, for Europeans at least, to sleep within 
earshot of the din." 

Vannattan. — A synonym of Veluttedan, the caste of 
washermen, who wash for Nayars and higher castes. 

Vanni Kula Kshatriya. — A synonym of the Pallis, 
who claim to belong to the fire race of Kshatriyas. 

Vanniyan.— A synonym of Palli. The name further 
occurs as a sub-division of Ambalakaran and Valaiyan. 
Some Maravans also are known as Vanniyan or Vanni- 
kutti. Ten (honey) Vanniyan is the name adopted by 
some Irulas in the South Arcot district. 

Vantari.— 5^^ Telaga. 


Vanuvan.— A name assumed by Vaniyans who have 
abandoned their hereditary occupation of oil-pressing, 
and taken to trade in grain and other articles. 

Varakurup. — Recorded, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a title of Malayalam Para vans. 

Varige (millet). — An exogamous sept of Kapu. 

Variyar.— For the following note on the Variyar 
section of the Ambalavasis, I am indebted to Mr. 
N. Subramani Aiyar. The name is believed to be 
derived from Parasava, which, according to Yajnavalkya 
and other law-givers, is the name given to the son of a 
Brahman begotten on a Sudra woman, and suggests the 
fact that the Variyar is no Brahman, though the blood 
of the latter may course through his veins, and though 
such marriages were regarded as sacraments in early 
days. This is the derivation given by Pachumuttalu in 
his Keralaviseshamahatmya, who adds that the chief 
occupation of the Variyars is to sweep the floor of the 
temples. In some of the Asauchavidhis (works on 
pollution) of Kerala, the commentator explains the word 
Parasava as Variya. Many Variyars add the title 
Parasava to their name, when writing in Sanskrit. Some 
derive the word from varija or one born of water, in 
accordance with a tradition that Parasurama created 
from water a class of persons for special service in 
temples, and to take the place of Sudras, who, being 
meat-eaters, were ineligible for the same. Others again, 
like the late Professor Sundaram Pillay, would take 
Variyar as being derived from varuka, to sweep. 
Recently, some ingenuity has been displayed in splitting 
the word into two words, giving it a meaning equivalent 
to pseudo- Aryan. The title Asan, or teacher, is possessed 
by certain families, whose members have held the 
hereditary position of tutors in noblemen's houses. In 


mediaeval times, many Variyar families received royal 
edicts, conferring upon them the privileges of being 
tutors and astrologers. These special rights are even 
now possessed by them. 

The following legend is narrated concerning the 
origin of the Variars. A Sudra woman removed a bone 
from within a temple in obedience to the wish of certain 
Brahman priests, and was excommunicated from her 
caste. The priests, on hearing this, were anxious to 
better her condition, and made her the progenitor of a 
class of Ambalavasis or temple servants, who were 
afterwards known as Variyars. According to another 
legend, the corpse of a Maran, which was found inside 
a Nambutiri's house, was promptly removed by certain 
Nayars, who on that account were raised in the social 
scale, and organised into a separate caste called Variyar. 
There is a still further tradition that, in the Treta Yuga, 
a Sudra woman had five sons, the first of whom became 
the progenitor of the Tiyatunnis, and the second that 
of Variyars. A fourth account is given in the Kerala- 
mahatmya. A young Brahman girl was married to an 
aged man. Not confident in unaided human effort, under 
circumstances such as hers, she devoted a portion of her 
time daily to preparing flower garlands for the deity of 
the nearest temple, and conceived. But the Brahman 
welcomed the little stranger by getting the mother thrown 
out of caste. Her garlands could no longer be accepted, 
but, nothing daunted, she worked as usual, and made a 
mental offering of the garlands she prepared, which, 
through an unseen agency, became visible on the person 
of the deity. Though the people were struck with shame 
at their unkind treatment of the innocent girl, they were 
not prepared to take her back. The Variyan caste was 
accordingly constituted, and her child was brought up by 



the Azhancheri Tambrakkal, and accommodated in the 
padippura or out-house at the entrance gate. In the 
Pasupata Tantra, the Variyars are called Kailasavasins, 
or those who live in Kailas, as they are supposed to be 
specially devoted to the worship of Siva. Kailasa is the 
abode of Siva, whither the blessed go after death. 

The Variyars of Travancore are divided into four 
groups, called Onattukara, Venattukara, Ilayetattunad 
(or Ilayathu), and Tekkumkur. The Venattukaras have 
the privilege of interdining with the Onattukaras, and 
having their ceremonies performed by priests from that 
group. But the ceremonies of the Onattukaras appear 
to be performed without the Venattukaras being admitted 
into their midst. The third and fourth groups take food 
in the houses of the first and second, though the reverse 
seldom happens. The Variyars in British Malabar are 
divided into several other groups. 

The Variyars are generally well-read, especially in 
Sanskrit, make excellent astrologers, and are also medical 
practitioners. A Variyars house is called variyam, as 
the Pisharati's is known as pisharam. 

Married women have the hair-knot on the left side 
of the head, like Nayar ladies. They cover the breast 
with a folded cloth, and never wear a bodice or other 
innovations in the matter of dress. The marriage 
ornament is called matra, and is in the shape of a 
maddalam or drum. Other neck ornaments are called 
entram and kuzhal. The todu, or ornament of Nayar 
women, is worn in the ear-lobes. Women mark their 
foreheads, like Nambutiri ladies, with sandal paste. 

The Variyars, Pushpakans, and Pisharatis, are said 
to constitute the three original garland-making castes of 
Malabar, appointed by Parasurama. At the present 
day, in all the important temples, except in South 


Travancore, where Kurukkals perform that function, 

garlands can only be prepared by one of these castes. 

The technical occupation of a Variyar in a temple is 

called kazhakam, which is probably derived from the 

Dravidian root kazhaku, to cleanse. Kazhakam is of 

two kinds, viz., malakkazhakam or garland-making 

service, and talikkazhakam or sweeping service, of 

which the former is more dignified than the latter. 

Under the generic term kazhakar are included making 

flower garlands for the temple, preparing materials for 

the offering of food, sweeping the beli offering, carrying 

lights and holding umbrellas when the god is carried in 

procession, having the custody of the temple jewels, etc. 

The Variyar is at the beck and call of the temple priest, 

and has to do sundry little services from morning till 

evening. He is remunerated with some of the cooked 

food, after it has been offered to the deity. The 

Variyars are to Saivite temples what the Pisharatis are 

to Vaishnavite temples. Their prayers are prominently 

addressed only to Siva, but they also worship Vishnu, 

Subramanya, Sasta, Ganesa, and Bhadrakali. Their 

chief amusement is the farce called Kuttappathakam, 

the hero of which is one Vankala Nikkan, and the 

heroine Naityar. An Ilayatu is the stage-manager, and 

a Pisharati the actor. Parangotan is the buffoon, and 

Mappa his wife. In the eighteenth century, a grand 

festival lasting over twenty-eight days, called mamangam, 

was celebrated in British Malabar. The above characters 

are represented as proceeding to this festival, which 

came off once in twelve years on the Magha asterism in 

the month of Magha, and is hence popularly called 


The Variyar caste is governed in all matters by the 
Nambutiri Brahmans, but they have their own priests. 


The Ilayatus believe that they were the preceptors of 
all the Ambalavasi castes in former times, but were 
dislodged from that position owing to most of them 
employing priests from among their own caste men. 
Even at the present day, Ilayatus are known to ex- 
press their displeasure when they are asked to drink 
water from a Variyar's well. As, however, consecrated 
water from the Nambutiris is taken to a Variyar for its 
purification, they entertain no scruples about cooking 
their food there, provided they carry with them the 
aupasana fire. 

Inheritance among the Variyars of Cochin and 
British Malabar is in the female line (marumakkatha- 
yam). Among the Variyars of Travancore, chiefly 
these belonging to the Onattukara section, a kind of 
qualified makkathayam prevails, in accordance with 
which both sons and daughters have an equal right to 
inherit ancestral property. The eldest male member is 
entitled to the management of the estate in all undivided 
families. Partition, however, is largely followed in 

The tali-kettu ceremony of the Variyars generally 
takes place before a girl reaches puberty, and, in the 
case of boys, after the ceremony of Sivadiksha has been 
performed, that is between the twelfth and sixteenth 
years. If the marriage is in the kudi-vaippu form, or, 
in other words, if there is an intention on the part of 
both parties to treat the marital alliance as permanent, 
no separate sambandham need be celebrated afterwards ; 
and, in all cases where marriages are celebrated between 
members of the same section, the kudi-vaippu form is in 
vogue. If a girl is unmarried when she reaches puberty, 
she is not permitted to take part in any religious 
ceremonies, or enter any temple until she is married. 


The first item of a Variyar's marriage is ayani-unu, 
when the bridegroom, decked in new clothes and 
ornaments, dines sumptuously with his relations. He 
then goes in procession to the bride's house, and, after 
bathing, puts on clothes touched by the bride. After 
this some prayers are recited, and a sacrifice is offered. 
The bride is then brought to the marriage hall, and, all 
the Brahmanical rites are strictly observed. After 
sunset, some grass and a leopard's skin are placed on 
the floor on which white cloth is spread. The bride- 
groom, who is seated on the northern side, worships 
Ganapati, after which the couple take their seats on the 
cloth bed spread on the floor. Lights are then waved 
in front of them. This ceremony is known as diksha- 
virikkuka. In the kudi-vaippu form of marriage, the 
bride is taken to the house of the bridegroom, where the 
dikshavirippu is observed. Otherwise the marital rite 
becomes a mere tali-kattu ceremony, and the girl, when 
she comes of age, may receive clothes in token of 
conjugal connection with another person. When the 
first husband dies, clothes may be received from another 
Variyar, or a Brahman, whose wife the woman becomes. 
Most of the ceremonies observed by Malayali 
Brahmans are also performed by the Variyars, the 
vratas and upanayana being among those which are 
omitted. Sivadiksha, as already indicated, is observed 
between the twelfth and sixteenth years. The festival 
lasts for four days, though the religious rites are over 
on the first day. At an auspicious hour, the priest 
and the Variyar youth put on the tattu dress, or dress 
worn for ceremonial purposes, and worship a pot full of 
water with incense and flowers, the contents of which 
are then poured by the priest over the youth. The 
priest and a Maran then perform the tonsure, and the 

vAriyar 328 

youth bathes. Some Nambutiris are then engaged to 
perform the purificatory rite, after which the Variyar 
wears the tattu as well as an upper cloth, marks his fore- 
head with ashes and sandal paste, and decorates himself 
with jewels, rudraksha i^Elceocarpus Ganitrus) beads, and 
flowers. Alms are received by the young Variyar from his 
mother, and he takes seven steps in a northerly direction 
which symbolise his pilgrimage to Benares. It is only 
after the performance of this rite that the Variyar is 
believed to become a grihastha (married person, as 
opposed to a bachelor). The funeral rites of the caste 
have been elaborated in many places. Death pollution 
lasts for twelve days, and the sanchayana (milk cere- 
mony) is observed on the seventh or ninth day. Anni- 
versary ceremonies are celebrated in memory of close 
relations, and others are propitiated by the performance 
of sradh, and the feeding of a Variyar on a new-moon day. 
In an account of a royal wedding in Travancore in 
1906, I read that "a number of Variyars left the theva- 
rathu koikal, or palace where worship is performed, for 
a compound (garden) close by to bring an areca palm. 
It is supposed that they do this task under divine 
inspiration and guidance. One man is given a small rod 
by the Potti or priest in the palace, and, after receiving 
this, he dances forward, followed by his comrades, and 
all wend their way to a compound about a furlong away. 
On reaching the spot, they uproot a big areca palm 
without the use of any implement of iron, and take it 
away to the thevarathu koikal without its touching the 
ground, to the accompaniment of music. They then 
plant it in front of the portico, and do some puja (wor- 
ship) after the manner of Brahmans. The function is 
comparable to the dhwajarohanam, or hoisting of the flag 
during temple utsavams. The Variyans dance round 


the tree, singing songs, and perfo'-»rwng puja. A piece 
of white cloth is tied to the top of the tree, to serve as 
a flag, and a lamp is lighted, and placed at the foot of 
the tree." 

The Variyars are described, in the Gazetteer of 
Malabar, as " a caste whose traditional duty is to sweep 
the temple precincts (varuga). At the present day, 
some members of the caste are important land-owners 
or petty chieftains, occupying a very high social position. 
They generally follow the marumakkatayam principle, 
but they have also a form of marriage called Kudivekkal 
similar to the Brahman Sarvasvadhanam, by which the 
wife is adopted as a member of the family into which 
she marries, and her children also belong to it. The 
Variyars names and ceremonies indicate Sivaite procli- 
vities, just as those of the Pisharodi are tinged with 
Vishnavism. The Variyars house is called a Variyam, 
and his woman-folk Varassiars. This class is perhaps 
the most progressive among the Ambalavasis, some of 
its members having received a Western education and 
entered the learned professions." 

VarugU Bhatta.^A mendicant class, which begs 
from Perikes. 

Varuna.— Some Pattanavan fishermen have adopted 
the name of Varunakula Vellala or Varunakula Mudali 
after Varuna the god of the waters. 

Vasa (new). — A sub-division of Kurubas, who are 
said to weave only white blankets. 

Vasishta.— A Brahmanical gotra adopted by 
Khatris and Toreyas. Vasishta, one of the seven great 
Rishis, was the son of Mitra and Varuna, whose quarrels 
with Viswamitra are narrated in the Ramayana. 

Vastra.-^One division of the Koragas is called 
Vastra, meaning cloths such are used as a shroud for a 



corpse, which were given to them as an act of charity, 
the wearing of new cloths by them being prohibited. 
Vastrala (cloth) further occurs as an exogamous sept of 
the Kama Sale and Devanga weavers. 

Vattakadan. — Recorded as a sub-division of Nayar, 
the occupation of which is expressing oil, chiefly for use 
in temples. Mr. F. Fawcett writes * that, in North 
Malabar, he has frequently been told by Nayars of the 
superior classes that they do not admit the Vattakadans 
to be Nayars. According to them, the Vattakadans have 
adopted the honorary affix Nayar to their names quite 
recently. In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Vatta- 
kadan is stated to be a synonym of Vaniyan ; and in 
the report, 1901, this name is said to mean a Native of 
Vattakad, and to be given to the Chakkans. 
Vatte (camel). — A gotra of Kurni. 
Vatti.— Vatti or Vattikurup has been recorded at 
times of census as a sub-division of Nayar, and a 
synonym of Kavutiyan and Tolkollan. Vatti is said to 
mean one who prays for happiness. 

Vayani.— The Vayanis, Vayinis, Vaguniyans, or 
Pavinis, are a section of Madigas, the members of which 
play on a single-stringed mandoline, and go about from 
village to village, singing the praises of the village 
goddesses. Each Vayani has his recognised beat. He 
plays a prominent part in the celebration of the annual 
festival of the village goddess, and receives a sacred 
thread (kappu), which is usually tied to his mandoline, 
before the commencement of the festival. He regards 
himself as superior in social position to ordinary 
Madigas, with whom he will not marry. The name 
Vayani is said to be a corruption of varnane, meaning to 

* Madras Museum Bull. Ill, 3. 1901. 

331 VEDAN 

describe. In some localities, e.g., the Chingleput district, 
the Vayani enjoys mirasi rights in connection with land. 

Vedan. — The Vedans are described by Mr. H. A. 
Stuart, in the North Arcot Manual, as having been 
" formerly hunters and soldiers, and it is this caste which 
furnished a considerable and valuable contingent to the 
early Hindu kings, and later to the armies of Hyder and 
Tippoo. They are supposed by some to be the remnants 
of the earliest inhabitants of the peninsula, and identical 
with the Veddahs of Ceylon. They are also called Valmi- 
kulu, which means those who live on the products of ant- 
hills (valmikum)." It is noted, in the Census Report, 
1 89 1, that the two castes Bedar (or Boya) and Vedan were, 
" through a misapprehension of instructions, treated as 
identical in the tabulation papers. The two words are, 
no doubt, etymologically identical, the one being Canarese 
and the other Tamil, but the castes are quite distinct." 
It may be noted that the name Valmika or Valmiki is 
assumed by the Boyas, who claim descent from Valmiki, 
the author of the Ramayana, who did penance for so long 
in one spot that a white-ant hill grew up round him. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Vedans are 
described as " a Tamil-speaking labouring and hunting 
caste, the members of which were formerly soldiers, and 
subsequently dacoits. The name means a hunter, and 
is loosely applied to the Irulas in some places {e.g., 
Chingleput). There is some connection between the 
Vedans and Tamil Vettuvans, but its precise nature is 
not clear. The Vettuvans now consider themselves 
superior to the Vedans, and are even taking to calling 
themselves Vettuva Vellalas. Marriage (among the 
Vedans) is either infant or adult. Widows may marry 
their late husband's brother or agnates. Some employ 
Brahmans as priests. They either burn or bury their 

VEDAN 332 

dead. They claim descent from Kannappa Nayanar, 
one of the sixty -three Saivite saints. Ambalakarans also 
claim to be descended from Kannappa Nayanar. In 
Tanjore, the Valaiyans declare themselves to have a 
similar origin. The title of the Vedans is Nayakkan." 
In the Madura Manual, the Vedans are described as 
a very low caste, who get their living in the jungles. 
They are not numerous now. They appear to have 
been naked savages not very long ago, and their civilisa- 
tion is far from complete. They are held in the greatest 
contempt by men of all classes. They are described 
further, in the Coimbatore Manual, as " a very degraded, 
poor tribe, living by basket-making, snaring small game, 
and so on. They speak a low Canarese, and are as simple 
as savage. The delight of a party at the gift of a rupee 
is something curious." In the Salem district some 
Vedans are said* to be "known by the caste name 
Tiruvalar, who are dintinguished as the Kattukudu- 
girajati, a name derived from a custom among them, 
which authorises temporary matrimonial arrangements." 
The following story in connection with bears and 
Vedans is worthy of being placed on record. The bears 
are said to collect ripe wood-apples {Feronia elepkantum) 
during the season, and store them in the forest. After 
a small quantity has been collected, they remove the 
rind of the fruits, and heap together all the pulp. They 
then bring honey and petals of sweet-smelling flowers, 
put them on the heap of pulp, and thresh them with 
their feet and with sticks in their hands. When the 
whole has become a consistent mass, they feed on it. 
The Vedan, who knows the season, is said to drive off 
the bears by shooting at them, and rob them of their 

* Manual of the Salem district. 


333 v£daN 

feast, which is sold as karadi panchamritham, or bear 
delicacy made of five ingredients. 

The Vedars of Travancore are summed up by the 
Rev. S. Mateer * as "living in jungle clearings or 
working in the rice fields, and formerly sold and bought 
as slaves. They have to wander about in seasons of 
scarcity in search of wild yams, which they boil and eat 
on the spot, and are thorough gluttons, eating all they can 
get at any time, then suffering want for days. Polygamy 
is common, as men are not required to provide for the 
support of their wives. Some, who have been converted 
to Christianity, show wonderful and rapid improvement 
in moral character, civilisation and diligence." 

For the following note on the Mala (hill) Vedans 
of Travancore, I am indebted to Mrs. J. W. Evans.f 
** They live in wretched huts amid the rice-flats at the 
foot of the hills, and are employed by farmers to guard 
the crops from the ravages of wild beasts. The upper 
incisor teeth of both men and women are filed to a 
sharp point, like crocodile's fangs. One ugly old man, 
Tiruvatiran by name (the name of a star), had the four 
teeth very slightly filed. On being pressed for the 
reason why he had not conformed to Mala Vedar fashion, 
he grinned, and said * What beauty I was born with is 
enough for me.' Probably the operation had been more 
painful than he could bear, or, may be, he could not 
afford to pay the five betel leaves and areca nuts, which 
are the customary fee of the filer. Any man may 
perform the operation. A curved bill-hook, with serrated 
edge, is the instrument used. On being asked whether 
they had any tradition about the custom of tooth-filing, 
they replied that it was to distinguish their caste, and the 

• Native Life in Travancore. t Madras Museum, Bull. Ill, I, 1900. 



god Chattan would be angry if they neglected the custom. 
It may be noted that tooth-filing is also practiced by the 
jungle Kadirs (q.v.). Both males and females wore a 
cotton loin-cloth, mellowed by wear and weather to a 
subtle greenish hue. Red and blue necklaces, interstrung 
with sections of the chank shell [Turbineila rapd) 
adorned the necks and chests. One woman was of special 
interest. Her neck and breasts were literally concealed 
by a medley of beads, shells, brass bells, and two common 
iron keys — these last, she said, for ornament. Around 
her hips, over her cloth, hung several rows of small bones 
of pig and sambar [Cervus unicolor). The Mala Vedars 
find these bones in the jungle. An aged priest said that 
he used to perform devil-dancing, but was now too stiff 
to dance, and had to labour like the younger men. The 
Mala Vedans apparently possess no temples or shrines, 
but Hindus permit them to offer money at the Hindu 
shrines from a distance, at times of sudden sickness or 
during other seasons of panic. Their god Chattan, or 
Sattan, has no fixed abode, but, where the Mala Vedans 
are, there is he in the midst of them. They bury their 
dead in a recumbent posture, nearthehut of the deceased. 
The Mala Vedans practice the primitive method of 
kindling fire by the friction of wood (also practiced by the 
Kanakars), and, like the Kanakars, they eat the black 
monkey. Their implements are bill-hooks, and bows and 
arrows. They weave grass baskets, which are slung to 
their girdles, and contain betel, etc." 

The more important measurements of twenty-five 
Mala Vedans examined by myself were — 




Stature (cm.) 
Cephalic index 
Nasal index 


1 40-8 





1 02* 6 




335 VEL 

The figures show that, Hke other primitive jungle tribes 
in Southern India, the Mala Vedans are short of 
stature, dolichocephalic, and platyrhine. 

The following menstrual ceremony has been 
described * as occurring among the Vedans of Travancore. 
" The wife at menstruation is secluded for five days in a 
hut a quarter of a mile from her home, which is also used 
by her at childbirth. The next five days are passed in 
a second hut, half way between the first and her house. 
On the ninth day her husband holds a feast, sprinkles 
his floor with wine, and invites his friends to a spread of 
rice and palm wine. Until this evening, he has not dared 
to eat anything but roots, for fear of being killed by the 
devil. On the tenth day he must leave his house, to which 
he may not return until the women, his and her sister have 
bathed his wife, escorted her home,and eaten rice together. 
For four days after his return, however, he may not eat 
rice in his own house, or have connection with his wife." 

Vedunollu. — A gotra of Ganigas, members of which 
may not cut Nyctanthes Arbor-tristis. The flowers 
thereof are much used in Hindu worship, as the plant is 
supposed to have been brought from heaven by Krishna 
for his wife Satyabhama. 

Veginadu.— A sub-division of Komatis, who belong 
to the Vegi or Vengi country, the former name of part 
of the modern Kistna district. The Vegina Komatis are 
said to have entered the fire-pits with the caste goddess 

Vekkali Puli (cruel-legged tiger). — An exogamous 
section of Kalian. 

Vel (lance). — A sub-division of Malayalam Paraiyans, 
and an exogamous sept or sub-division of Kanikars in 

Crawley, The Mystic Rose. Fide Jagor. Zeitsch : Ethnol. XI, 164. 


Travancore. Velanmar (spearmen) occurs as a name 
for the hill tribes of Travancore. 

Velakkattalavan. — Velakkattalavan or Vilakkat- 
talavan is stated in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, 
to indicate chieftains among barbers, and to be the name 
for members of families, from which persons are selected 
to shave kings or nobles. In the Madras Census Report, 
1 89 1, Velakkattalavan is said to be " the name in South 
Malabar of the caste that shaves Nayars and higher 
castes. The same man is called in North Malabar 
Valinchiyan, Navidan, or Nasiyan. In dress and habits 
the caste resembles Nayars, and they call themselves 
Nayars in the south. Many returned their main caste 
as Nayar. The females of this caste frequently act as 
midwives to Nayars. In North Malabar, the Valinchiyan 
and Nasiyan follow the Nayar system of inheritance, 
whereas the Navidan has inheritance in the male line ; 
but, even amongst the latter, tali-kettu and sambandham 
are performed separately by different bridegrooms. In 
South Malabar the caste generally follows descent in the 
male line, but in some places the other system is also 
found." Sudra Kavutiyan is recorded, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, as a synonym of Velakkatalavan. 

Velama.— The Velamas, or, as they are sometimes 
called, Yelamas, are a caste of agriculturists, who dwell 
in the Telugu country and Ganjam. Concerning them 
Mr. H. A. Stuart writes as follows.* " Who the Velamas 
were it seems difficult to decide. Some say they form a 
sub-division of the Balijas, but this they themselves most 
vehemently deny, and the Balijas derisively call them 
Guna Sakala (or Tsakala) vandlu (hunch-backed washer- 
men). The pride and jealousy of Hindu castes was 

• Manual of the North Arcot district. 


amusingly illustrated by the Velamas of Kalahasti. The 
Deputy Tahsildar of that town was desired to ascertain 
the origin of the name Guni Sakalavandlu, but, as soon 
as he asked the question, a member of the caste lodged 
a complaint of defamation against him before the District 
Magistrate. The nickname appears to have been applied 
to them, because, in the northern districts, some print 
chintzes, and, carrying their goods in a bundle on their 
backs, walk stooping like a laden washerman. This 
derivation is more than doubtful, for, in the Godavari 
district, the name is Guna Sakalavandlu, guna being the 
big pot in which they dye the chintzes. Some Velamas 
say that they belong to the Kammas, but divided from 
them in consequence of a difference of opinion on the 
subject of gosha, most Velama females being now kept 
in seclusion. [In the Kurnool Manual it is noted that 
the Velama women are supposed to be gosha, but, owing 
to poverty, the rule is not strictly observed.] Both 
Kammas and Velamas, before they divided, are said to 
have adopted gosha from the Muhammadans, but, finding 
that they were thus handicapped in their competition 
with other cultivating castes, it was proposed that the 
original custom of their ancestors should be reverted to. 
Those who agreed signed a bond, which, being upon 
palm leaf, was called kamma, and from it they took this 
name. The dissentients retained gosha, and were there- 
fore called outsiders or Velamas. This does not, however, 
explain what the original name of the caste was, and the 
truth of the story is doubtful. Since this dispute, the 
Velamas have themselves had a split on the subject of 
gosha, those who have thrown it off being called Adi or 
original Velamas, and the others Padma Velamas. The 
Velamas seem to have come south with the Vijayanagara 
kings, and to have been made Menkavalgars, from which 


position some rose to be Poligars. Now they are chiefly 
the hangers-on of poligars or cultivators. To distinguish 
them from the Vellalas in the southern taluks, they call 
themselves Telugu Vellalas, but it seems very improbable 
that the Velamas and Vellalas ever had any connection 
with one another. They are styled Naidus." [The 
Velamas style themselves Telugu Vellalas, not because 
of any connection between the two castes, but because 
they are at the top of the Telugu castes as the Vellalas 
are of the Tamil castes. For the same reason, Vellalas 
are sometimes called Arava (Tamil) Velamalu.] 

The most important sub-divisions returned by the 
Velamas at the census, 1891, were Kapu, Koppala, 
Padma, Ponneti, and Yanadi. " It is," the Census 
Superintendent writes, " curious to find the Yanadi sub- 
division so strongly represented, for there is at the 
present day a wide gulf between Velamas and Yanadis " 
(a Telugu forest tribe). In the Vizagapatam Manual, a 
class of cultivators called Yanadulu is referred to ; and, 
in the Madras Census Report, 1 901, it is recorded that 
entries under the name Yanati " were clubbed with 
Yanadi ; but it has since been reported that, in Bissam- 
cuttack taluk of the Vizagapatam Agency, there is a 
separate caste called Yanati or Yeneti Dora which is 
distinct from Yanadi." It would appear that, as in the 
south, the Velamas call themselves Telugu Vellalas, so 
in the north they call themselves Yanatis. 

Concerning the Guna Velamas, the Rev. J. Cain 
writes* that " in years gone by, members of this class, 
who were desirous of getting married, had to arrange and 
pay the expenses of two of the Palli (fisherman) caste, 
but now it is regarded as sufficient to hang up a net in 

* Ind. Ant. VIII, 1879. 


the house during the time of the marriage ceremony." 
The custom had its origin in a legend that, generations 
ago, when all the members of the caste were in danger 
of being swept off the face of the earth by some of their 
enemies, the Pallis came to the rescue with their boats, 
and carried all the Guna Velamas to a place of safety. 
The Guna Velamas, Mr. Cain continues, were " formerly 
regarded as quite an inferior caste, but, as many members 
of it have been educated in Anglo- Vernacular schools, 
they have found their way into almost every department 
and risen in the social scale. Their caste occupation is 
that of dyeing cloth, which they dip into large pots 
(gunas). The term Guna Tsakala is one of reproach, 
and they much prefer being called Velamalu to the 
great disgust of the Raca (Raja) Velamalu." To the 
Raca Velama section belong, among other wealthy land- 
owners, the Rajas of Bobbili, Venkatagiri, Pittapur, and 
Nuzvid. At the annual Samasthanam meeting, in 1906, 
the Maharaja of Bobbili announced that "none of the 
Velamavaru were working in any of the offices at the 
time when I first came to Bobbili. There were then a 
small number acting as mere supervisors without clerical 
work. Only from the commencement of my adminis- 
tration these people have been gradually taken into 
the office, and induced to read at the High School." 

For the following note on the Velamas who have 
settled in the Vizagapatam district, I am indebted to 
Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The following sub-divisions 
of the caste may be noted : — 

(i) Pedda or Padma found chiefly in the Bobbili 
taluk. Those composing it are said to be the descendants 
of the military followers and dependents of Pedda Rajudu, 
the founder of the Bobbili family, who received a terri- 
torial grant in 1652 from Sher Muhammad Khan, the 



Moghul Fauzdar of Chicacole. It is to this sub-division 
that Orme refers, when he says * that they " esteem 
themselves the highest blood of Native Indians, next to 
the Brahmans, equal to the Rajpoots, and support their 
pre-eminence by the haughtiest observances, insomuch 
that the breath of a different religion, and even of the 
meaner Indians, requires ablution ; their women never 
transfer themselves to a second, but burn with the husband 
of their virginity." The remarriage of widows is for- 
bidden, and women remain gosha (in seclusion), and 
wear gold or silver bangles on both wrists, unlike those 
of the Koppala section. The title of members of this 
sub-division is Dora. 

(2) Kamma Velama found chiefly in the Kistna 
district, from which some families are said to have 
emigrated in company with the early Rajas of Vizia- 
nagram. They are met with almost solely in the town 
of Vizianagram. The remarriage of widows is permitted, 
but females are gosha. The title is Nayudu. 

(3) Koppala, or Toththala, who do not shave 
their heads, but tie the hair in a knot (koppu) on the top 
of the head. They are divided into sections, e.g., Naga 
(cobra), Sankha (chank shell, Turbinella rapa), Tulasi 
{Ocimum sanctum), and Tabelu (tortoise). These have 
no significance so far as marriage is concerned. They 
are further divided into exogamous septs, or intiperulu, 
of which the following are examples : — Nalla (black), 
Doddi (court-yard, cattle-pen or sheep-fold), Reddi 
(synonym of Kapu). The custom of menarikam, by 
which a man marries his maternal uncle's daughter, is 
observed. A Brahman officiates at marriages. Widows 
are permitted to remarry seven times, and, by an unusual 

* History of the Military Transactions in Indostan. 


custom, an elder brother is allowed to marry the widow 
of his younger brother. Women wear on the right 
wrist a solid silver bangle called ghatti kadiyam, and 
on the left wrist two bangles called sandelu, between 
which are black glass bangles, which are broken when a 
woman becomes a widow. The titles of members of this 
sub-division are Anna, Ayya, and, when they become 
prosperous, Nayudu. 

In a note on the Velamas of the Godavari district, 
Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes that they "admit that 
they always arrange for a Mala couple to marry, before 
they have a marriage in their own houses, and that they 
provide the necessary funds for the Mala marriage. They 
explain the custom by a story to the effect that a Mala 
once allowed a Ve^ama to sacrifice him in order to 
obtain a hidden treasure, and they say that this custom 
is observed out of gratitude for the discovery of the 
treasure which resulted. The Rev. J. Cain gives* a 
similar custom among the Velamas of Bhadrachalam 
in the Godavari district, only in this case it is a Palli 
(fisherman) who has to be married." 

There is, a correspondent informs me, a regular 
gradation in the social scale among the Velamas, 
Kammas, and Kapus, as follows : — 

Velama Dora = Velama Esquire. 

Kamma Varu = Mr. Kamma. 


A complaint was once made on the ground that, in a 
pattah (title-deed), a man was called Kamma, and not 
Kamma Varu. 

It is noted by Mr. H. G. Prendergast t that the 
custom of sending a sword to represent an unavoidably 

♦ Ind. Ant. VIII, 1879. t Ind. Ant. XX, 1891. 


absent bridegroom at a wedding is not uncommon among 
the Telugu Razus and Velamas. 

Velampan (rope-dancer). — Possibly a name for the 
Koravas of Malabar, who perform feats on the tight- 

Velan.— As a diminutive form of Vellala, Velan 
occurs as a title assumed by some Kusavans. Velan 
is also recorded as a title of Paraiyans in Travancore. 
(See Panan.) 

For the following note on the Velans of the Cochin 
State, I am indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha Krishna 

The Velans, like the Panans, are a caste of devil- 
dancers, sorcerers and quack doctors, and are, in the 
northern parts of the State, called Perumannans or 
Mannans (washermen). My informant, a Perumannan 
at Trichur, told me that their castemen south of the 
Karuvannur bridge, about ten miles south of Trichur, 
are called Velans, and that they neither interdine nor 
intermarry, because they give mattu (a washed cloth) to 
carpenters to free them from pollution. The Mannans, 
who give the mattu to Izhuvans, do not give it to 
Kammalans (artisan classes), who are superior to them 
in social status. The Velans at Ernakulam, Cochin, and 
other places, are said to belong to eight illams. A simi- 
lar division into illams exists among the Perumannans 
of the Trichur taluk. The Perumannans of the Chittur 
taluk have no knowledge of this illam division existing 
among them. 

The following story was given regarding the origin of 
the Velans and Mannans. Once upon a time, when Para- 
meswara and his wife Parvati were amusing themselves, 

♦ Monograph Eth. Survey of Cochin, No. 12, 1907. 

343 VfiLAN 

the latter chanced to make an elephant with earth, 
which was accidentally trodden on by the former, whence 
arose a man who stood bowing before them. He 
was called the Mannan because he came out of man 
(earth), and to him was assigned his present occupation. 
This tradition is referred to in the songs which are sung 
on the fourth day of a girl's first menses, when she takes 
a ceremonial bath to free her from pollution. 

The Velans are found all over the southern parts 
of the State, as their brethren are in the northern parts. 
They live in thatched huts in cocoanut gardens, while 
the Mannans occupy similar dwellings in small com- 
pounds either of their own, or of some landlord whose 
tenant they may be. 

When a girl attains puberty, she is at once bathed, 
and located in a room in the hut. Her period of seclusion 
is four days. On the morning of the fourth day, she 
is seated in a pandal (booth) put up in front of the hut, 
and made to hold in her hand a leafy vessel filled with 
rice, a few annas and a lighted wick, when a few of the 
castemen sing songs connected with puberty till so 
late as one or two o'clock, when the girl is bathed. 
After this, the castemen and women who are invited are 
feasted along with the girl, who is neatly dressed and 
adorned in her best. Again the girl takes her seat in 
the pandal and the tunes begin, and are continued till 
seven or eight o'clock next morning, when the ceremony 
comes to an end. The songsters are remunerated with 
three paras of paddy (unhusked rice), twenty-eight 
cocoanuts), thirteen annas and four pies, and two pieces 
of cloth. The songs are in some families postponed till 
the sixteenth day, or to the day of the girl's marriage. 
Very poor people dispense with them altogether. The 
following is a translation of one of the songs. 

VELAN 344 

One day a girl and her friends were playing merrily 
on the banks of a river, when one of them noticed some 
blood on her dress. They took her home, and her 
parents believed it to have been caused by some wound, 
but on enquiry knew that their daughter was in her 
menses. The daughter asked her mother as to what she 
did with the cloth she wore during her menses, when 
she was told that she bathed and came home, leaving it 
on a branch of a mango tree. On further enquiry, she 
knew that the goddess Ganga purified herself by a bath, 
leaving her cloth in the river ; that the goddess earth 
buried it in earth ; and that Panchali returned home 
after a bath, leaving her dress on a branch of a banyan 
tree. Unwilling to lose her dress, the girl went to the god 
Parameswara, and implored his aid to get somebody to 
have her cloth washed. When muttering a mantram 
(prayer), he sprinkled some water, a few drops of which 
went up and became stars, and from a few more, which 
fell on the leaves of a banyan tree, there came out a man, 
to whom was assigned the task of washing the cloths 
of the women in their courses, wearing which alone the 
women are purified by a bath. 

When a young man of the Velan caste has attained 
the marriageable age, his father and maternal uncle select 
a suitable girl as a wife, after a proper examination and 
agreement of their horoscopes. The preliminaries are 
arranged in the hut of the girl, and a portion of the 
bride's price, fifteen fanams, is paid. The auspicious day 
for the wedding is fixed, and the number of guests that 
should attend it is determined. The wedding is cele- 
brated at the girl's hut, in front of which a shed is put 
up. The ceremony generally takes place at night. A 
few hours before it, the bridegroom and his party arrive 
at the bride's hut, where they are welcomed, and seated 

345 VELAN 

on mats spread on the floor in the pandal (shed). At 
the auspicious hour, when the relatives on both sides and 
the castemen are assembled, the bridegroom's enangan 
(relation by marriage) hands over a metal plate containing 
the wedding suit, the bride's price, and a few packets 
of betel leaves and nuts to the bride's enangan, who 
takes everything except the cloth to be given to the 
bride's mother, and returns the plate to the same man. 
The bridegroom's sister dresses the bride in the new 
cloth, and takes her to the pandal, to seat her along with 
the bridegroom, and to serve one or two spoonfuls of 
milk and a few pieces of plantain fruit, when the bride 
is formally declared to be the wife of the young man and 
a member of his family. The guests assembled are 
treated to a feast, a,fter which they are served with betel 
leaves, nuts, and tobacco. The rest of the night is spent 
in merry songs and dancing. The songs refer to 
the marriage of Sita, the wife of Rama, of Subhadra, 
wife of Arjuna, and of Panchali, wife of the Pandavas. 
Next morning, the bride's party is treated to rice kanji 
(gruel) at eight o'clock, and to a sumptuous meal 
at twelve o'clock, after which they repair to the bride- 
groom's hut, accompanied by the bride, her parents and 
relations, all of whom receive a welcome. The formali- 
ties are gone through here also, and the bride's party 
is feasted. On the fourth morning, the newly married 
couple bathe and dress themselves neatly, to worship 
the deity at the local temple. After dinner they go to 
the bride's hut, where they spend a week or two, 
after which the bridegroom returns to his hut with his 
wife. It is now that the bride receives a few ornaments, 
a metal dish for taking meals, a lamp, and a few 
metal utensils, which vary according to the circum- 
stances of her parents. Henceforward, the husband 

VfeLAN 346 

and wife live with the parents of the former in their 

Among the Mannans of the northern parts of the 
State, the following marriage customs are found to prevail. 
The bridegroom's father, his maternal uncle, enangan, 
and the third or middle man, conjointly select the girl 
after due examination and agreement of horoscopes. 
The preliminaries are arranged as before, and the day 
for the wedding is determined. At the auspicious moment 
on the wedding day, when the relatives on both sides 
and the castemen are assembled at the shed in front of 
the bride's hut, the bridegroom's father takes up a metal 
plate containing the wedding dress, the bride's price 
(twelve fanams), and a few bundles of betel leaves, nuts 
and tobacco, and repeats a formula, of which the substance 
runs thus. "A lighted lamp is placed in the shed. 
Four mats are spread round it in the direction of east, 
west, north and south. A metal plate, containing rice, 
flowers and betel leaves, is placed in front of the lamp, 
and the elderly members of the caste and the relatives on 
both sides are assembled. According to the traditional 
custom of the caste, the young man's father, maternal 
uncle, enangan, and the middle man conjointly selected 
the girl after satisfying themselves with due agreement 
of horoscopes, and ascertaining the illams and kriyams 
on both sides. They have negociated for the girl, and 
settled the day on which the marriage is to take place. 
In token of this, they have taken meals in the bride's 
family. The claims of the girl for two pieces of cloth 
for the Onam festival, two fanams or nine annas for 
Thiruwatira (a festival in Dhanu, i.e., December- 
January), and Vishu, are satisfied, and she is by the 
young man taken to the village festival. They have 
now come for the celebration of the wedding. There 

347 VELAN 

have been times when he has heard of loi fanams as 
the price of the bride, and has seen 5 1 fanams as the 
price of the same, but it is now 21 fanams. It thus 
varies, and may be increased or diminished according 
to the will, pleasure, and means of the parties. With 
four fanams as the price of the bride and eight fanams 
for ornaments, and with the bundles of betel leaves, nuts, 
and the wedding dress in a metal plate, may I, ye elderly 
members, give it to the girl's parents.-*" "Shall I," 
answers the girl's father, ** accept it ? " Receiving it, he 
gives it to his brother-in-law, who gives it to the enangan, 
and he takes everything in it except the wedding suit, 
which he hands over to the bridegroom's enangan, who 
gives it to the bridegroom's sister, to have the bride 
dressed in it. The other portions of the ceremony are 
the same as those described above. In Palghat and the 
Chittur taluk, the following declaration is made. 
"According to the customary traditions of the caste, 
when a young man of one locality comes to tame a girl 
of another locality, and takes her as his wife, ye elderly 
members assembled here, may these four bundles of betel 
leaves, four measures of rice, two pieces of cloth, and 
ten fanams be given to the bride's parents.-*" "Shall 
these be accepted ? " says the bride's enangan. When 
the bride accompanies the bridegroom to his hut, the 
following formal statement is made. " Thrash thou 
mayst, but not with a stick. Thou mayst not accuse her 
of bad conduct. Thou mayst not cut off her ears, 
breasts, nose and tufts of hair. Thou mayst not take 
her to a tank (to bathe), or to a temple (for swearing). 
Thou mayst keep and protect her as long as thou 
wantest. When thou dost not want her, give her 
maintenance, and take back the children, for they are 
thine own." 

VELAN 348 

Polygamy is not prohibited, but is rarely practiced 
by the Velans and Mannans. They are very poor, and 
find it difficult to support their wives and children born 
in a single married life. Want of children, bodily defect 
or incurable disease, or want of additional hands for work, 
may sometimes induce them to take more than one wife. 
Polyandry does not prevail among the Velans, but is 
common among the Mannans of the northern parts of 
the State. A Velan woman who loses her husband may 
marry another of her caste, if she likes, a year after her 
husband's death. The formalities of the wedding consist 
in the husband giving two pieces of cloth to the woman 
who wishes to enter into wedlock with him. After this 
she forfeits all claim on the property of her former 
husband. Among the Mannans, a widow may marry 
any one of her brothers-in-law. A woman committing 
adultery with a member of her own caste is well thrashed. 
One who disposes of herself to a member of a lower 
caste is sent out of caste. She may then become a 
Christian or Muhammadan convert. If an unmarried 
young woman becomes pregnant, and this is known to 
her castemen, they convene a meeting, and find out the 
secret lover, whom they compel to take her as his wife. 
Very often they are both fined, and the fine is spent on 
toddy. Both among the Velans and Mannans, divorce 
is easy. A man who does not like his wife has only 
to take her to her original home and give charge of her 
to her parents, informing them of the circumstances 
which have induced him to adopt such a course. A 
woman who does not like her husband may relinquish 
him, and join her parents. In both case, the woman is 
at liberty to marry again. 

When a woman is pregnant, the ceremony of pulikuti 
(drinking of tamarind juice) is performed for her during 

349 VELAN 

the ninth month at the hut of her husband. The juice is 
extracted from tamarind {Tdmarindus indica\ kotapuli 
[Garcinia Cambogia), nerinjampuli {Hibiscus surattensis) 
and the leaves of ambazhampuli [Spondias mangiferd). 
A large branch of ambazhampuli is stuck in the ground in 
the central courtyard, near which the pregnant woman is 
seated. The husband gives her three small spoonfuls, 
and then seven times with her cherutali (neck ornament) 
dipped in the juice. Among the washermen, the 
woman's brother gives it three times to her. Should 
her sister-in-law give it in a small vessel, she has 
a claim to two pieces of cloth. After this, a quarter 
measure of gingelly {Sesamum) oil is poured upon her 
head, to be rubbed all over her body, and she bathes, 
using Acacia Intsia as soap. Those of her relatives 
and the castemen who are invited are sumptuously 
fed. Some of them crack jokes by asking the pregnant 
woman to promise her baby son or daughter to theirs 
when grown up. All bless her for a safe delivery and 
healthy child. 

A woman who is about to become a mother is lodged 
in a separate room for her delivery, attended by her 
mother and one or two grown-up women, who act as 
midwives. The period of pollution is fifteen days. For 
the first three days the woman is given a dose of dried 
ginger mixed with palmyra [Borassus flabellifer) jaggery 
(crude sugar), and for the next three days a mixture of 
garlic and jaggery. Her diet during the first three days 
is rice kanji with scrapings of cocoanut, which are 
believed to help the formation of the mother's milk. 
For the next three days, the juice of kotapuli {Garcinia 
Cambogid), cumin seeds, and kotal urikki {Achyranthes 
asperd), and of the leaves of muringa [Moringa ptery- 
gosperma) is given, after which, for a few more days, 

VELAN 350 

a dose of the flesh of fowl mixed with mustard, cumin 
seeds and uluva ( Trigonella fcBnum-grcecurn) boiled in 
gingelly oil is taken. She bathes in water boiled with 
medicinal herbs on the fourth, seventh, ninth, eleventh, 
and sixteenth days. On the morning of the sixteenth 
day, her enangathi (enangan's wife) cleans her room with 
water mixed with cowdung, and sweeps the compound. 
Wearing a mattu (washed cloth) brought by a washerman, 
she bathes to be freed from pollution. She may now 
enter the hut, and mingle with the rest of the family. 

Among Velans and Mannans, the sons inherit the 
property of their fathers, but they are very poor, and have 
little or nothing to inherit. 

Velans and Mannans practice magic and sorcery. 
All diseases that flesh is heir to are, in the opinion of 
these people, caused by malignant demons, and they 
profess to cure, with the aid of their mantrams and 
amulets, people suffering from maladies. The muttering 
of the following mantram, and throwing of bhasmam 
(holy ashes), in propitiation of the small-pox demon is 
believed to effect a cure. 

(i) Om, Oh ! thou, Pallyamma, mother with tusk- 
like teeth, that in demoniacal form appearest on the 
burning ground called omkara, with burning piles flam- 
ing around, with one breast on one of thy shoulders, 
and playing with the other as with a ball, with thy tongue 
stretched out and wound round thy head, with grass, 
beans, and pepper in thy left hand, with gingelly seeds 
and chama grains in thy right hand, that scatterest and 
sowest broadcast the seeds of small-pox ; Oh ! let the 
seeds that thou hast sown, and those that thou hast not 
sown, dry up inside, and get charred outside. Be thou 
as if intoxicated with joy ! Protect thou, protect thou ! 
(2) Malign influence of birds on children. 

351 VELAN 

Oh ! thou round-eyed, short Karinkali with big 
ears, born from the third incessantly burning eye of Siva, 
come, come and be in possession. 

If this mantram be muttered sixteen times, and 
bhasmam thrown over the body of a child, the operator 
breathing violently the while, a cure will be effected. 
If the mantram be muttered in a vessel of water the 
same number of times, and the child bathed in it, the 
cure will be equally effective. 

(3) To cure fits and fever. 

Oh ! thou swine-faced mother, thou catchest hold of 
my enemy, coming charging me, by the neck with thy 
tusks thrust into his body ; draggest him on the ground, 
and standest slowly chewing and eating, thrusting thy 
tusks, rubbing again, and wearing down his body, 
chewing once more and again ; thou, mother that 
controllest 41,448 demons presiding over all kinds of 
maladies, seventy-two Bhiravans, eighteen kinds of 
epileptic fits (korka), twelve kinds of muyalis and all 
other kinds of illness, as also Kandakaranans (demons 
with bell-shaped ears), be under my possession so long 
as I serve thee. 

This mantram should be repeated sixteen times, 
with bhasmam thrown on the body of the patient. 

(4) Oh ! Bhadrakali, thou hast drunk the full cup. 
Oh ! thou that boldest the sword of royalty in thy right 
hand, and that half sittest on a high seat. Place under 
control, as I am piously uttering the mantrams to serve 
thee, all demons, namely Yakshi, Gandharvan, Poomala- 
gandharvan, Chutali, Nirali, Nilankari, Chuzali, and 
many others who cause all kinds of illness that flesh is 
heir to. Oh ! holy mother, Bhadrakali, I vow by my 

(5) For devil driving. 

VELAN 352 

Oh ! thou, Karinkutti (black dwarf) of Vedapuram 
in Vellanad, that pluckest the fruits of the right hand 
branch of the strychnine tree {Sirycknos Nux-vomica), 
and keepest toddy in its shell, drinking the blood of the 
black domestic fowl, drumming and keeping time on the 
rind of the fruit, filling and blowing thy pipe or horn 
through the nose. Oh ! thou primeval black dwarf, so 
long as I utter the proper mantrams, I beg thee to 
cause such demons as would not dance to dance, and 
others to jump and drive them out. Oh ! thou, Karin- 
kutti, come, come, and enable me to succeed in my 

(6) Oh ! thou goddess with face. Oh ! thou with 
face like that of a bear, and thou, a hunter. I utter thy 
mantrams and meditate upon thee, and therefore request 
thee to tread upon my enemies, burst open their bodies 
to drink their blood, and yawn to take complete rest ; 
drive out such demons as cause convulsions of the body 
both from within and without, and all kinds of fever. 
Scatter them as dust. I swear by thee and my preceptor. 

(7) For the evil eye. 

Salutations to thee. Oh ! God. Even as the moon 
wanes in its brightness at the sight of the sun, even as 
the bird chakora (Eraya) disappears at the sight of the 
moon ; even as the great Vasuki (king of serpents) 
vanishes at the sight of chakora ; even as the poison 
vanishes from his head ; so may the potency of his evil 
eye with thy aid vanish. 

(8) To cause delay in the occurrence of menses. 
Salutation to thee. Oh ! Mars (the son of the 

goddess Earth). 

If this mantram is muttered on a thread dyed yellow 
with turmeric, and if the thread be placed on both the 

35'3 VELAN 

palms joined together, and if the number of days to 
which the occurrence of the menses should be delayed 
be thought of, the postponement will be procured by 
wearing it either round the neck or the loins. The 
thread with a ring attached to it, and worn round the 
neck is equally effective. 

(9) To prevent cows from giving milk. 

Om, Koss, dry up the liquid, kindly present me with 
thy gracious aspect. Oh ! thou with the great sword in 
thy hands, the great trident, dry up the cow's udder even 
as a tiger, I swear by thee and my preceptor. 

(10) To cause cows to give milk. 

Even as the swelling on the holy feet of Mahadeva 
due to the bite of a crocodile has subsided and gone down, 
so go down. I swear by my preceptor. 

(11) To remove a thorn from the sole of the foot. 
When Parameswara and Parvathi started on their 

hunting expedition, a thorn entered the foot of her 
lady-ship. It was doubted whether it was the thorn 
of a bamboo, an ant, or a strychnine tree. Even so 
may this poison cease to hurt, Oh ! Lord. I swear by 
my preceptor. 

(12) To effect metamorphosis. 

Take the head of a dog and burn it, and plant on 
it vellakutti plant. Burn camphor and frankincense, and 
adore it. Then pluck the root. Mix it with the milk 
of a dog and the bones of a cat. A mark made with the 
mixture on the forehead will enable any person to 
assume the figure of any animal he thinks of. 

(13) Before a stick of the Malankara plant, worship 
with a lighted wick and incense. Then chant the Sakti 
mantram 10 1 times, and mutter the mantram to give life 
at the bottom. Watch carefully which way the stick 
inclines. Proceed to the south of the stick, and pluck 


VELAN 354 

the whiskers of a live tiger, and make with them a ball 
of the veerali silk, string it with silk, and enclose it within 
the ear. Stand on the palms of the hand to attain the 
disguise of a tiger, and, with the stick in hand, think of 
a cat, white bull, or other animal. Then you will, in the 
eyes of others, appear as such. 

( 1 4) Take the nest of a crow from a margosa tree, 
and bury it at the cremation ground. Then throw it 
into the house of your enemy. The house will soon 
take fire. 

(15) Take the ashes of the burial-ground on which 
an ass has been rolling on a Saturday or Sunday, and put 
it in the house of your enemy. The members of the 
family will soon quit the house, or a severe illness will 
attack them. 

The Velans and Mannans are animists, and worship 
demoniacal gods, such as Chandan, Mundian, Kanda- 
karanan, Karinkutti, and Chathan. All of them are 
separately represented by stones located underneath a 
tree in the corners of their compounds. Offerings of 
sheep, fowls, plantain fruits, cocoanuts, parched rice and 
beaten rice, are made to them on the tenth of Dhanu (last 
week in December), on a Tuesday in Makaram (January- 
February), and on Kumbham Bharani (second asterism 
in March-April). They also adore the goddess Bhaga- 
vathi and the spirits of their departed ancestors, who are 
believed to exercise their influence in their families for 
good or evil. Sometimes, when they go to Cranganore 
to worship the goddess there, they visit the senior male 
members of the local Nayar, Kammalan and Izhuvan 
families to take leave of them, when they are given a few 
annas with which they purchase fowls, etc., to be given as 
offerings to the local goddess. Wooden or metal images, 
representing the spirits of their ancestors, are located in 

355 VELAN 

a room of their huts, and worshipped with offerings on 
New Moon and Sankranti nights. 

The Velans and Mannans either burn or bury the 
dead. The son is the chief mourner who performs the 
funeral rites, and the nephews and brothers take part in 
them. Their priests are known as Kurup, and they preside 
at the ceremonies. Death pollution lasts for sixteen days, 
and on the morning of the sixteenth day the hut of the 
dead person is well swept and cleansed by sprinkling 
water mixed with cowdung. The members of the family, 
dressed in the mattu (a washed cloth worn before 
bathing) brought by the washerman, bathe to be free 
from pollution. The castemen, including their friends 
and relations, are invited and feasted. A similar funeral 
feast is also held at the end of the year. 

The chief occupation of the Velans and Mannans is 
the giving of mattu to Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Anthala- 
rajatis, Nayars, Kammalans and Izhuvans, for wearing 
before going to bathe on the day on which they are freed 
from pollution. A girl or woman in her courses on 
the morning of the fourth day, a woman in confinement 
on the fifth, ninth, eleventh and sixteenth days, and all 
the members of a family under death pollution on the 
sixteenth day, have to use it. They bathe wearing the 
washed cloth, and return it as soon as the bath is over. 
It may either belong to the washerman, or have been 
previously given to him by the members of the family. 
He gets an anna or a measure of paddy for his service 
to a woman in her menses, and a para of paddy or six 
annas for birth and death pollutions. The Velans give 
the mattu to all the castes above mentioned, while the 
Mannans refuse to give it to the Kammalans, and thereby 
profess themselves to be superior in status to them. 
They wash clothes to dress the idols in some of the high 

VII-23 B 

VELAN 356 

caste temples. Their washing consists in first plunging 
the dirty cloths in water mixed with cowdung, and 
beating them on a stone by the side of a tank (pond), 
canal or river, and again immersing them in water mixed 
with wood ashes or charamannu, after which they are 
exposed to steam for a few hours, and again beaten on 
the stone, slightly moistening in water now and then, 
until they are quite clean. They are then dried in the 
sun, and again moistened with a solution of starch and 
indigo, when they are exposed to the air to dry. When 
dry, they are folded, and beaten with a heavy club, so as 
to be like those ironed. The Velans of the Cranganore, 
Cochin, and Kanayannur taluks, climb cocoanut trees to 
pluck cocoanuts, and get about eight to ten annas for 
every hundred trees they go up. They make umbrellas. 
Some among them practice magic and sorcery, and some 
are quack doctors, who treat sickly children. Some are 
now engaged in agricultural operations, while a few 
make beds, pillows, and coats. There are also a few of 
them in every village who are songsters, and whose 
services are availed of on certain ceremonial occasions, 
namely, on the bathing day of a girl in her first menses, 
on the wedding night, and when religious ceremonies are 
performed, and sacrifices offered to their gods. Some 
are experts in drum-beating, and are invited by low caste 
people of the rural parts. The Mannans also follow the 
same occupations. 

The Velans and Mannans eat at the hands of all 
castes above them, namely, Brahmans, Kshatriyas, 
Nayars, and Izhuvans. The former take food from 
Kammalans, while the latter abstain from so doing. 
They do not eat the food prepared by Kaniyans, Panans, 
Vilkurups, or other castes of equal or inferior status. 
They have to stand at a distance of twenty-four feet from 

357 VELAN 

Brahmans. They have their own barbers, and are their 
own washermen. They stand far away from the outer 
wall of the temples of high castes. They are not allowed 
to take water from the wells of high caste Sudras, nor 
are they allowed to live in their midst. 

The following note on the Velans of Travancore has 
been furnished by Mr. N. Subramani Iyer. 

The word Velan has been derived from vel a spear, 
and also from vela work. The usual title of the Velans 
is Panikkan. They are believed to be divided into four 
classes, viz., Bharata Velan, Vaha Velan, Pana Velan, 
and Manna Velan. While the last of these sections, in 
addition to their traditional occupation, are washermen 
and climbers of areca palm trees, the Pana Velans take 
sawing as a supplementary employment. Some of the 
members of the first and second classes are also physi- 
cians. This classification is gradually going out of 

The Velans are said traditionally to have been 
descended from Siva, who, on one occasion, is believed 
to have removed the evil effects of the sorcery of demons 
upon Vishnu by means of exorcism. As this kind of 
injury began to increase among men, a man and woman 
were created by this deity, to prevent its dire conse- 
quences. In the Keralolpatti, this caste is mentioned as 
Velakkuruppu. But at present the Puranadis, who are 
the barbers and priests of this class, are known by this 
name. A Puranadi means one who stands outside, and is 
not admitted as of equal rank with the Velans proper. 
The Puranadis are not washermen. Commensal relations 
exist only between the male members of the Velans and 
Puranitis (Puranadi females). 

The Velans perform a number of useful services in 
the body politic of Malabar. In the Keralolpatti their 

v£lan 358 

duty is said to be the nursing of women in their confine- 
ment. In the Kerala- Visesha-Mahatmya, exorcism, 
climbing of trees, and washing clothes, are mentioned as 
their occupations. There are various kinds of exorcism, 
the chief being Velan Tullal and Velan Pravarti. The 
former is a kind of masque performed by the Velans for 
warding off the effects of the evil eye, and preventing 
the injurious influences of demons and spirits. Atavi is 
a peculiar female divinity worshipped by the caste, by 
whose help these feats are believed to be performed in 
the main. She, and a host of minor gods and goddesses, 
are represented by them, and a dance commences. 
After it is over, all the characters receive presents. Velan 
Pravarti, or Otuka, may either last for eleven days, 
or may be finished on a minor scale within three days, 
and in emergent cases even in one day. A Puranadi acts 
as buffoon, and serves the purpose of a domestic servant 
on the occasion. This is called Pallipana when performed 
in temples, Pallipperu when in palaces, and Velan 
Pravarti or Satru-eduppu in the case of ordinary people. 
This is also done with a view to prevent the effect of 
the evil eye. On the first day, a person representing the 
enchanted man or woman is placed in a temporary shed 
built for the purpose, and lights are waved before him. 
On the third day, a pit is dug, and a cock sacrificed. On 
the fourth day, the Pattata Bali, or human sacrifice, 
takes place. A person is thrown into a pit which is 
covered with a plank of wood, upon which sacrifices are 
offered. The buried person soon resuscitates himself, 
and, advancing as if possessed, explains the cause of 
the disease or calamity. On the eighth day, figures of 
snakes, in gold or silver, are enclosed in small copper 
vessels, and milk and fruit are offered to them. On the 
ninth day, the Velans worship the lords of the eight 


directions, with Brahma or the creator in the midst of 
them. On the tenth day, there is much festivity and 
amusement, and the Mahabharata is sung in a 
condensed form. The chief of the Velans becomes 
possessed, and prays that, as the Pandavas emerged 
safely from the sorcery of the Kauravas, the person 
affected by the calamity may escape unhurt. On the 
last day, animals are sacrificed at the four corners of 
the compound surrounding the house. No special rite 
is performed on the first day, but the Ituvanabali, 
Kuzhibali, Pattatabali, Kitangubali, Patalabali, Sara- 
kutabali, Pithabali, Azhibali, Digbali, and Kumpubali, 
are respectively observed during the remaining ten days. 
The Pana, of which rite the breaking of cocoanuts is 
the most important item, completes this long ceremony. 
It was once supposed that the Bharata Velans exorcised 
spirits in the homes of high caste Hindus, the same 
work being done among the middle classes by the Vaha 
Velans, and among the low by the Manna Velans. This 
rule does not hold good at the present day. The Velans 
are also engaged in the event of bad crops. 

Besides standing thirty-two feet apart from Hindu 
temples, and worshipping the divinities therein, the 
Velans erect small sanctuaries for Siva within their own 
compounds, called Kuriyala. They worship this deity 
in preference to others, and offer tender cocoanuts, fried 
rice, sugar, and plantain fruits to him on the Uttradam 
day in the month of August. 

Velanati (foreign). — A sub-division of Kapus, and 
other Telugu castes, and of Telugu Brahmans. 

Velanga (wood apple : Feronia elephantum). — An 
exogamous sept of Muka Dora. 

Velichchapad.— "Of the Velichchapads, or ora- 
cles, of Malabar, the following account is given by 


Mr. F. Fawcett.* " Far away in rural Malabar, I witnes- 
sed the ceremony in which the Velichchapad exhibited his 
quality. It was in the neighbourhood of a Nayar house, 
to which thronged all the neighbours (Nayars), men and 
women, boys and girls. The ceremony lasts about an 
hour. The Nayar said it was the custom in his family to 
have it done once a year, but could give no account of 
how the custom originated ; most probably in a vow, 
some ancestor having vowed that, if such or such benefit 
be received, he would for ever after have an annual 
performance of this ceremony in his house. It involved 
some expenditure, as the Velichchapad had to be paid, 
and the neighbours had to be fed. Somewhere about 
the middle of the little courtyard, always as clean as a 
dinner table, the Velichchapad placed a lamp (of the 
Malabar pattern) having a lighted wick, a kalasam (brass 
vessel), some flowers, camphor, saffron (turmeric) and 
other paraphernalia. Bhagavati was the deity invoked, 
and the business involved offering flowers, and waving 
a lighted wick round the kalasam. The Velichchapad's 
movements became quicker, and, suddenly seizing his 
sword (nandakam), he ran round the courtyard (against 
the sun, as sailors say) shouting wildly. He is under the 
influence of the deity who has been introduced into him, 
and he gives oracular utterances to the deity's commands. 
What he said I know not, and no one else seemed to know 
or care in the least, much interested though they were 
in the performance. As he ran, every now and then he 
cut his forehead with the sword, pressing it against the 
skin and sawing vertically up and down. The blood 
streamed all over his face. Presently he became wilder 
and wilder, and whizzed round the lamp, bending forward 

* Madras Museum Bull. Ill, 3, 1901. 




towards the kalasam. Evidently some deity, some spirit 
was present here, and spoke through the mouth of the 
Velichchapad. This, I think, undoubtedly represents the 
belief of all who were present. When he had done whiz- 
zing round the kalasam, he soon became a normal being, 
and stood before my camera. The fee for the self-inflicted 
laceration is one rupee, some rice, etc. I saw the Velich- 
chapad about three days afterwards, going to perform 
elsewhere. The wound on his forehead had healed. The 
careful observer can always identify a Velichchapad by the 
triangular patch over the forehead, where the hair will 
not grow, and where the skin is somewhat indurated." 

Veliveyabadina Razu. — The name, denoting Razus 
who were thrown out, of a class said to be descended from 
Razus who were excommunicated from their caste.* 

Veliyam.-^Recorded, in the Travancore Census 
Report, 1 90 1, as a title of Nayars. In the same report 
Veliyattu is described as synonymous with Pulikkap- 
panikkan, a sub-division of Nayar. 

Vellaikaran (white man). — A Tamil name for 

Vellala. — " The Vellalas," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes.t 
" are the great farmer caste of the Tamil country, and 
they are strongly represented in every Tamil district. 
The word Vellalan is derived from vellanmai [vellam, 
water, anmai, management i^] meaning cultivation, 
tillage. Dr. Oppert I considers Vellalan to be etymo- 
logically connected with Pallan, Palli, etc., the word 
meaning the lord of the Vallas or Pallas. The story of 
their origin is as follows. Many thousands of years ago, 

• Rev, J. Cain, Ind. Ant., VIII, 1879. 

t Madras Census Report, rSgi, and Manual of the North Arcot District, 
X Madras Journal of Literature and Science, 188-788, p. 134, where the 
etymology of the name Vellala is fully discussed. 


when the inhabitants of the world were rude and 
ignorant of agriculture, a severe drought fell upon the 
land, and the people prayed to Bhudevi, the goddess of 
the earth, for aid. She pitied them, and produced from 
her body a man carrying a plough, who showed them how 
to till the soil and support themselves. His offsprings 
are the Vellalas, who aspire to belong to the Vaisya 
caste, since that includes Govaisyas, Bhuvaisyas, and 
Dhanavaisyas (shepherds, cultivators and merchants). 
A few, therefore, constantly wear the sacred thread, but 
most put it on only during marriages or funerals as a 
mark of the sacred nature of the ceremony." 

The traditional story of the origin of the Vellalas is 
given as follows in the Baramahal Records.* " In ancient 
days, when the God Paramesvaradu and his consort 
the goddess Parvati Devi resided on the top of Kailasa 
Parvata or mount of paradise, they one day retired to 
amuse themselves in private, and by chance Visvakarma, 
the architect of the Devatas or gods, intruded on their 
privacy, which enraged them, and they said to him that, 
since he had the audacity to intrude on their retirement, 
they would cause an enemy of his to be born in the 
Bhuloka or earthly world, who should punish him for 
his temerity. Visvakarma requested they would inform 
him in what part of the Bhuloka or earthly world he 
would be born, and further added that, if he knew the birth 
place, he would annihilate him with a single blow. The 
divine pair replied that the person would spring up into 
existence from the bowels of the earth on the banks of 
the Ganga river. On this, Visvakarma took his sword, 
mounted his aerial car, and flew through the regions of 
ether to the banks of the Ganga river, where he anxiously 

• Section III. Inhabitants, Government Press, Madras, 1907. 


waited the birth of his enemy. One day Visvakarma 
observed the ground to crack near him, and a kiritam or 
royal diadem appeared issuing out of the bowels of the 
earth, which Visvakarma mistook for the head of his 
adversary, and made a cut at it with his sword, but only 
struck off the kiritam. In the meantime, the person 
came completely out of the earth, with a bald pate, hold- 
ing in his hand a golden ploughshare, and his neck 
encircled with garlands of flowers. The angry Visvakarma 
instantly laid hold on him, when the Gods Brahma, 
Vishnu and Siva, and the supporters of the eight corners 
of the universe, appeared in all their glory, and interceded 
for the earth-born personage, and said to ^'isvakarma 
thou didst vow that thou wouldst annihilate him with a 
single blow, which vow thou hast not performed ; there- 
fore with what justice hast thou a second time laid violent 
hands on him ? Since thou didst not succeed in thy first 
attempt, it is but equitable that thou shouldst now spare 
him. At the intercession and remonstrance of the sfods. 
Visvakarma quitted his hold, and a peace was concluded 
between him and his enemy on the following stipulation, 
viz., that the pancha jati, or five castes of silversmiths, car- 
penters, ironsmiths, stone-cutters, and braziers, who were 
the sons of Visvakarma, should be subservient to the 
earth-born person. The deities bestowed on the person 
these three names. First Bhumi Palakudu or saviour 
of the earth, because he was produced by her. Second, 
Ganga kulam or descendant of the river Ganga, by reason 
of having been brought forth on her banks. Third, 
Murdaka Palakudu or protector of the plough, alluding 
to his being born with a ploughshare in his hand, and 
they likewise ordained that, as he had lost his diadem, he 
should not be eligible to sovereignty, but that he and his 
descendants should till the ground with this privilege. 


that a person of the caste should put the crown on the 
king's head at the coronation. They next invested him 
with the yegnopavitam or string, and, in order that he 
might propagate his caste, they gave him in marriage 
the daughters of the gods Indra and Kubera. At this 
time, the god Siva was mounted on a white bullock, and 
the god Dharmaraja on a white buffalo, which they gave 
him to plough the ground, and from which circumstance 
the caste became surnamed Vellal Warns or those who 
plough with white bullocks. After the nuptials, the 
deities departed to their celestial abodes. Murdaka 
Palakulu had fifty-four sons by the daughter of the god 
Indra, and fifty-two by the daughter of the god Kubera, 
whom he married to the one hundred and six daughters 
of Nala Kubarudu, the son of Kubera, and his sons-in- 
law made the following agreement with him, viz., that 
thirty-five of them should be called Bhumi Palakulu, 
and should till the ground ; thirty-five of them named 
Vellal Shetti, and their occupation be traffic ; and thirty- 
five of them named Govu Shetlu, and their employment 
breeding and feeding of cattle. They gave the remain- 
ing one the choice of three orders, but he would not have 
any connexion with either of them, from whence they 
surnamed him Agmurdi or the alien. The Agmurdi 
had born to him two thousand five hundred children, 
and became a separate caste, assuming the appellation 
of Agmurdi Vellal Waru. The other brothers had 
twelve thousand children, who intermarried, and lived 
together as one caste, though their occupations were 
different .... During the reign of Krishna Ra- 
yalu, whose capital was the city of Vijayanagaram or city 
of victory, a person of the Vellal caste, named Umbhi 
or Amultan Mudaliyar, was appointed sarvadhikari or 
prime minister, who had a samprati or secretary of the 


caste of Gollavaru or cowherds, whose name was 
Venayaterthapalli. It so happened that a set of Bhaga- 
vata Sevar, or strolling players, came to the city, and 
one night acted a play in the presence of Krishna Rayalu 
and his court. In one of the acts, a player appeared 
in the garb and character of a female cowherd, and, by 
mimicking the actions and manners of that caste, afforded 
great diversion both to the Raja and his courtiers. But 
no person seemed to be so much pleased as the prime 
minister, which being perceived by his secretary, he 
determined on making him pay dear for his mirth by 
turning the Vellal caste into ridicule, and thus hurt his 
pride, and take revenge for the pleasure he expressed at 
seeing the follies of the cowherd caste exposed. For that 
purpose, he requested the players, when they acted 
another play, to dress themselves up in the habit of a 
female of the Vellal caste. This scheme came to the 
ears of the prime minister, who, being a proud man, 
was sadly vexed at the trick, and resolved on preventing 
its being carried into execution ; but, having none of his 
own caste present to assist him, and not knowing well 
how to put a stop to the business, he got into his palan- 
quin, and went to a Canardha Shetti or headman of the 
right-hand caste, informed him of the circumstance, and 
begged his advice and assistance. The Shetti replied 
' Formerly the left-hand caste had influence enough with 
Government to get an order issued forbidding the right- 
hand caste to cultivate or traffic ; therefore, when we 
quarrel again, do you contrive to prevent the ryots of 
the Vellal caste from cultivating the ground, so that the 
public revenue will fall short, and Government will be 
obliged to grant us our own terms ; and I will save you 
from the disgrace that is intended to be put on you. 
The prime minister agreed to the proposal, and went 


home. At night, when the players were coming to the 
royal presence to act, and one of them had on the habit 
of a female of the Vellal caste, the Canardha Shetti cut 
off his head, and saved the honour of the prime minister. 
The death of the player being reported to the Raja 
Krishna Rayalu, he enquired into the affair, and finding 
how matters stood, he directed the prime minister and 
his secretary to be more circumspect in their conduct, 
and not to carry their enmity to such lengths.' Since 
that time, the Vellal castes have always assisted the right- 
hand against the left-hand castes." [See Kammalan.) 

At the time of the census, 1871, some Vellalas 
claimed that they had been seriously injured in reputa- 
tion, and handled with great injustice, in being classed 
as Sudras by the Municipal Commissioners of Madras 
in the classification of Hindus under the four great 
divisions of Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. 
In their petition it was stated that " we shall first proceed 
to show that the Vellalas do come exactly within the 
most authoritative definition given of Vysias, and then 
point out that they do not come within the like definition 
of Sudras. First then to the definition of Visya, Manu, 
the paramount authority upon these matters, says in 
paragraph 90 of his Institutes : — ' To keep herds of cattle, 
to bestow largesses, to sacrifice, to read the scripture, to 
carry on trade, to lend at interest, and to cultivate land, 
are prescribed or permitted to a Vysia.' " In the course of 
the petition, the Vellalas observed that "it is impossible 
to imagine that the Vellalas, a race of agriculturists and 
traders, should have had to render menial service to the 
three higher classes ; for the very idea of service is, as it 
needs must be, revolting to the Vellala, whose profession 
teaches him perfect independence, and dependence, if 
it be, upon the sovereign alone for the protection of his 

367 vellAla 

proper interests. Hence a Vellala cannot be of the 
Sudra or servile class. Besides, that the Vellalas are 
recognised as a respectable body of the community will 
also appear from the following. There was a ceremony 
called tulabharam (weighing in scales) observed by the 
ancient kings of, at some part of their lives, distributing 
in charity to the most deserving gold and silver equal to 
the weight of their persons ; and tradition alleges that, 
when the kings of Tanjore performed this ceremony, the 
right to weigh the king's person was accorded to the 
Vellalan Chettis. This shows that the Vellalas have 
been recognised as a respectable body of mercantile men 
in charge of weights and measures (Manu 30, chap. 9). 
So also, in the Halasya Puranam of Madura, it is said 
that, when the King Somasundara Pandien, who was 
supposed to be the very incarnation of Siva, had to be 
crowned, there arose a contention as to who was to put 
the crown on his head. After much discussion, it was 
agreed that one of the Vellalas, who formed the strength 
of the community (note the fact that Manu says that 
Vysya came from the thighs of the Supreme Deity, 
which, as an allegory, is interpreted to mean the strength 
of the State) should be appointed to perform that part of 
the ceremony. Also, in Kamban's Ramayana, written 
1,000 and odd years ago, it is said that the priest Vasista 
handed the crown to a Vellala, who placed it upon great 
Rama's head." 

In 'The Tamils eighteen hundred years ago,' Mr. V. 
Kanakasabhai writes that "among the pure Tamils, the 
class most honoured was the Arivar or Sages. Next 
in rank to the Arivar were the Ulavar or farmers. The 
Arivars were ascetics, but, of the men living in society, 
the farmers occupied the highest position. They formed 
the nobility, or the landed aristocracy, of the country. 


They were also called Vellalar, ' lords of the flood, ' or 
' Karalar,' * lords of the clouds, ' titles expressive of their 
skill in controlling floods, and in storing water for agri- 
cultural purposes. The Chera, Chola and Pandyan 
Kings, and most of the petty chiefs of Tamilakam, 
belonged to the tribe of Vellalas. The poor families of 
Vellalas who owned small estates were generally spoken 
of as the Veelkudi-UIuvar or 'the fallen Vellalas,' 
implying thereby that the rest of the Vellalas were 
wealthy land-holders. When Karikal the Great defeated 
the Aruvalar, and annexed their territory to his kingdom, 
he distributed the conquered lands among Vellala 
chiefs.* The descendants of some of these chiefs are to 
this day in possession of their lands, which they hold as 
petty zamindars under the British Government, t The 
Vellala families who conquered Vadukam, or the modern 
Telugu country, were called Velamas, and the great 
zamindars there still belong to the Velama caste. In 
the Canarese country, the Vellalas founded the Belial 
dynasty, which ruled that country for several centuries. 
The Vellalas were also called the Gangakula or Ganga- 
vamsa, because they derived their descent from the great 
and powerful tribe named Gangvida, which inhabited 
the valley of the Ganges, as mentioned by Pliny and 
Ptolemy. A portion of Mysore which was peopled mostly 
by Vellalas was called Gangavadi in the tenth and 
eleventh centuries of the Christian era. Another 
dynasty of kings of this tribe, who ruled Orissa in the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries, was known as the 
Gangavamsa .... In the earliest Tamil grammar 
extant, which was composed by a Brahman named 
Tholkappiyan, in the first or second century B.C., 

• Thondai-nandalap-paddiyam. 

t The zamindars of Cheyur, Chunampet, etc., in the Chingleput district. 


frequent allusions are made to the Arivar or Sages. But, 
in the chapter in which he describes the classes of society, 
the author omits all mention of" the Arivar, and places the 
Brahmins who wear the sacred thread as the first caste. 
The kings, he says, very guardedly, and not warriors, 
form the second caste, as if the three kings Chera, 
Chola and Pandy could form a caste ; all who live by 
trade belong to the third caste. He does not say that 
either the kings or the merchants wear the sacred thread. 
Then he singles out the Vellalas, and states that they 
have no other calling than the cultivation of the soil. 
Here he does not say that the Vellalas are Sudras, but 
indirectly implies that the ordinary Vellalas should be 
reckoned as Sudras, and that those Vellalas who were 
kings should be honoured as Kshatriyas. This is the 
first attempt made by the Brahmins to bring the Tamils 
under their caste system. But, in the absence of the 
Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra castes in Tamilakam, they 
could not possibly succeed ; and to this day the Vellala 
does not take meals at the hands of a Padaiyadchi, who 
calls himself a Kshatriya, or a merchant who passes for a 
Vaisya." In speculating on the origin of the Vellalas, 
Mr. J. H. Nelson* states that "tradition uniformly 
declares them to be the descendants of foreign immi- 
grants, who were introduced by the Pandyas : and it 
appears to be extremely probable that they are, and that 
an extensive Vellala immigration took place at a rather 
remote period, perhaps a little before or after the 
colonization of the Tonda-mandala by Adondai Chakra- 
varti. The Vellalas speak a pure dialect of Tamil, and 
no other language. I have not heard of anything 
extraordinary in the customs prevailing among them, or 

* Manual of the Madura dktrict. 


of any peculiarities pointing to a non-Tamil origin . . 
. . With regard to the assertion so commonly made 
that the Pandyas belonged to the Vellala caste, it is 
observable that tradition is at issue with it, and declares 
that the Pandyas proper were Kshatriyas : but they were 
accustomed to marry wives of inferior castes as well 
as and in addition to wives of their own caste ; and 
some of their descendants born of the inferior and 
irregularly married wives were Vellalans, and, after the 
death of Kun or Sundara Pandya, formed a new dynasty, 
known as that of the pseudo-Pandyas. Tradition also 
says that Arya Nayaga Muthali, the great general of 
the sixteenth century, was dissuaded by his family priest 
from making himself a king on the ground that he was 
a Vellalan, and no Vellalan ought to be a king. And, 
looking at all the facts of the case, it is somewhat 
difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that the 
reason assigned for his not assuming the crown was the 
true one. This, however, is a question, the settlement 
of which requires great antiquarian learning : and it 
must be settled hereafter." 

In the Madras Census Report, 187 1, the Vellalas are 
described as " a peace-loving, frugal, and industrious 
people, and, in the cultivation of rice, betel, tobacco, etc., 
have perhaps no equals in the world. They will not con- 
descend to work of a degrading nature. Some are well 
educated, and employed in Government service, and as 
clerks, merchants, shop-keepers, etc., but the greater 
part of them are the peasant proprietors of the soil, and 
confine their attention to cultivation." In the Madura 
Manual, it is recorded that "most Vellalans support 
themselves by husbandry, which, according to native 
ideas, is their only proper means of livelihood. But they 
will not touch the plough, if they can help it, and 


ordinarily they do everything by means of hired servants 
and predial slaves. In the Sathaga of Narayanan may 
be found a description of their duties and position in 
society, of which the following translation appears in 
Taylor's work, the Oriental MSS. The Vellalans, by 
the effect of their ploughing (or cultivation), maintain 
the prayers of the Brahmans, the strength of kings, 
the profits of merchants, the welfare of all. Charity, 
donations, the enjoyments of domestic life, and connubial 
happiness, homage to the gods, the Sastras, the Vedas, 
the Puranas, and all other books, truth, reputation, 
renown, the very being of the gods, things of good report 
or integrity, the good order of castes, and (manual) skill, 
all these things come to pass by the merit (or efficacy) 
of the Vellalan's plough. Those Vellalans who are not 
farmers, husbandmen, or gardeners, are employed in 
various ways more or less respectable ; but none of them 
will condescend to do work of a degrading nature. 
Some of them are merchants, some shop-keepers, some 
Government servants, some sepoys, some domestic 
servants, some clerks, and so forth." In the Tanjore 
Manual, it is stated that " many Vellalars are found in 
the Government service, more especially as karnams or 
village accountants. As accountants they are unsur- 
passed, and the facility with which, in by-gone days, they 
used to write on cadjan or palmyra leaves with iron 
styles, and pick up any information on any given points 
from a mass of these leaves, by lamp-light no less than 
by daylight, was most remarkable. Running by the side 
of the Tahsildar's (native revenue officer) palanquin, they 
could write to dictation, and even make arithmetical 
calculations with strictest accuracy. In religious obser- 
vances, they are more strict than the generality of 
Brahmans ; they abstain from both intoxicating liquors 


and flesh meat." In the Coimbatore Manual, the 
Vellalas are summed up as "truly the backbone of the 
district. It is they who, by their industry and frugality, 
create and develop wealth, support the administration, 
and find the money for imperial and district demands. 
As their own proverb says : — The Vellalar's goad is 
the ruler's sceptre. The bulk of them call themselves 
Goundans." In the Salem Manual, the Vellala is 
described as ** frugal and saving to the extreme ; his 
hard-working wife knows no finery, and the Vellalichi, 
(Vellala woman) willingly wears for the whole year the 
one blue cloth, which is all that the domestic economy of 
the house allows her. If she gets wet, it must dry on 
her ; and, if she would wash her sole garment, half is 
unwrapped to be operated upon, which in its turn 
relieves the other half, that is then and there similarly 
hammered against some stone by the side of the village 
tank (pond), or on the bank of the neighbouring stream. 
Their food is the cheapest of the ' dry ' grains which 
they happen to cultivate that year, and not even the 
village feasts can draw the money out of a Vellalar's 
clutches. It is all expended on his land, if the policy of 
the revenue administration of the country be liberal, and 
the acts of Government such as to give confidence to the 
ryots or husbandmen ; otherwise their hoarded gains are 
buried. The new moon, or some high holiday, may 
perhaps see the head of the house enjoy a platter of rice 
and a little meat, but such extravagance is rare." The 
Vellalas are summed up by ' A Native,'* as being " found 
in almost every station of life, from the labourer in the 
fields to the petty zamindar (landholder) ; from the owner 
of plantations to the cooly who works at coffee-picking ; 

♦ Pen and Ink Sketches of South India, 


from the Deputy Collector to the peon in his office." 
It is recorded, in the Census Report, 1871, that a Vellala 
had passed the M.A. degree examination of the Madras 
University. The occupations of the Vellalas whom I 
examined in Madras were as follows : — 










Railway fireman. 



In an excellent summary of the Vellalas * Mr. W. 
Francis writes as follows. " By general consent, the first 
place in social esteem among the Tamil Sudra castes is 
awarded to them. To give detailed descriptions of the 
varying customs of a caste which numbers, as this does, 
over two and a quarter millions, and is found all over the 
Presidency, is unnecessary, but the internal construction 
of the caste, its self-contained and distinct sub-divisions, 
and the methods by which its numbers are enhanced 
by accretions from other castes, are so typical of the 
corresponding characteristics of the Madras castes, that 
it seems to be worth while to set them out shortly. 

"The caste is first of all split up into four main 
divisions, named after the tract of country in which the 
ancestors of each originally resided. These are (i) 
Tondamandalam, or the dwellers in the Pallava country, 
the present Chingleput and North Arcot districts, the 
titles of which division are Mudali, Reddi and Nainar; 
(2) Soliya (or Sozhia), or men of the Chola country, the 
Tanjore and Trichinopoly districts of the present day, the 
members of which are called Filial ; (3) Pandya, the 

* Madras Census Report, 1901. 


inhabitants of the Pandyan Kingdom of Madura and 
Tinnevelly, which division also uses the title of Pillai ; 
and (4) Konga, or those who resided in the Konga 
country, which corresponded to Coimbatore and Salem, 
the men of which are called Kavandans. The members 
of all these four main territorial divisions resemble one 
another in their essential customs. Marriage is either 
infant or adult, the Puranic wedding ceremonies are 
followed, and (except among the Konga Vellalas) 
Brahmans officiate. They all burn their dead, observe 
fifteen days' pollution, and perform the karumantaram 
ceremony to remove the pollution on the sixteenth day. 
There are no marked occupational differences amongst 
them, most of them being cultivators or traders. Each 
division contains both Vaishnavites and Saivites, and 
(contrary to the rule among the Brahmans) differences of 
sect are not of themselves any bar to intermarriage. 
Each division has Pandarams, or priests, recruited from 
among its members, who officiate at funerals and minor 
ceremonies, and some of these wear the sacred thread, 
while other Vellalas only wear it at funerals. All 
Vellalas perform sraddhas (memorial services), and 
observe the ceremony of invoking their ancestors on the 
Mahalaya days (a piece of ritual which is confined to the 
twice-born and the higher classes ofSudras); all of them 
decline to drink alcohol or to eat in the houses of any but 
Brahmans ; and all of them may dine together. Yet no 
member of any of these four main divisions may marry 
into another, and, moreover, each of them is split into 
sub-divisions (having generally a territorial origin), the 
members of which again may not intermarry. Thus 
Tondamandalam are sub-divided into the Tuluvas, who 
are supposed to have come from the Tulu country ; the 
Poonamallee (or Pundamalli) Vellalas, so called from the 


town of that name near Madras ; and the Kondaikattis 
(those who tie their hair in a knot without shaving it). 
None of these three will intermarry. The Soliya 
Vellalas are sub-divided into the Vellan Chettis, meaning 
the Vellala merchants (who are again further split up 
into three or four other territorial divisions) ; the Kodik- 
kals (betel-garden), who grow the betel-vine ; and the 
Kanakkilinattar, or inhabitants of Kanakkilinadu. 
These three similarly may not intermarry, but the last is 
such a small unit, and girls in it are getting so scarce, 
that its members are now going to other sub-divisions 
for their brides. The Pandya Vellalas are sub-divided 
into the Karkattas or Karaikatus, who, notwithstanding 
the legends about their origin, are probably a territorial 
sub-division named from a place called Karaikadu ; the 
Nangudis and Panjais, the origin of whom is not clear ; 
the Arumburs and Sirukudis, so called from villages of 
those names in the Pandya country ; the Agamudaiyans, 
who are probably recruits from the caste of that name ; 
the Nirpusis, meaning the wearers of the sacred ashes ; 
and the Kottai Vellalas or fort Vellalas. These last are a 
small sub-division, the members of which live in Srlvai- 
kuntam fort (in Tinnevelly), and observe the strictest 
gosha (seclusion of females). Though they are, as has 
been seen, a sub-division of a caste, yet their objection to 
marry outside their own circle is so strong that, though 
they are fast dying out because there are so few girls 
among them, they decline to go to the other sub-divisions 
for brides. [See Kottai Vellala.] The Kongas are sub- 
divided into the Sendalais (red-headed men), Paditalais 
(leaders of armies), Vellikkai (the silver hands), 
Pavalamkatti (wearers of coral), Malaiyadi (foot of the 
hills), ToUakadu (ears with big holes), Attangarais (river 
bank), and others, the origin of none of which is clearly 


known, but the members of which never intermarry. In 
addition to all these divisions and sub-divisions of the 
Vellala caste proper, there are nowadays many groups 
which really belong to quite distinct castes, but which call 
themselves Vellalas, and pretend that they belong to that 
caste, although in origin they had no connection with 
it. These nominally cannot intermarry with any of the 
genuine Vellalas, but the caste is so widely diffused that 
it cannot protect itself against these invasions, and, after 
a few generations, the origin of the new recruits is 
forgotten, and they have no difficulty in passing them- 
selves off as real members of the community. The same 
thing occurs among the Nayars in Malabar. It may be 
imagined what a mixture of blood arises from this 
practice, and how puzzling the variations in the cranial 
measurements of Vellalas taken at random are likely to 
become. Instances of members of other castes who have 
assumed the name and position of the Vellalas are the 
Vettuva Vellalas, who are really Vettuvans ; the Puluva 
Vellalas, who are only Puluvans ; the 1 11am Vellalas, who 
are Panikkans ; the Karaiturai (lord of the shore) Vellalas, 
who are Karaiyans ; the Karukamattai (palmyra leaf- 
stem) Vellalas, who are Shanans ; the Gazulu (bangle) 
Vellalas, who are Balijas ; the Guha (Rama's boat-man) 
Vellalas, who are Sembadavans ; and the Irkuli Vellalas, 
who are Vannans. The children of dancing-girls also 
often call themselves Mudali, and claim in time to be 
Vellalas ; and even Paraiyans assume the title Pillai, 
and trust to its eventually enabling them to pass 
themselves off as members of the caste." The name 
Acchu Vellala has been assumed by some Karaiyans, 
and Pattanavans call themselves Varunakula Vellala or 
Varunakula Mudali, after Varuna, the god of the waters. 
At times of census, many hill Malayalis return themselves 


as Vellalas, in accordance with their tradition that they 
are Vellalas who migrated to the hills. Some thieving 
Koravas style themselves Aghambadiar Vellala or Pillai, 
and have to some extent adopted the dress and manners 
of the Vellalas.* In Travancore, to which State some 
Vellalas have migrated, males of the Deva-dasi (dancing- 
girl) caste sometimes call themselves Nanchlnad Vellalas. 
There is a Tamil proverb to the effect that a Kalian 
may come to be a Mara van. By respectability he may 
develop into an Agamudaiyan, and, by slow degrees, 
become a Vellala. According to another proverb, the 
Vellalas are compared to the brinjal {Solanum Melongena) 
fruit, which will mix palatably with anything. 

The account of the divisions and sub-divisions of the 
Vellalas recorded above may be supplemented from 
various sources : — 

I. Arampukutti, or Arambukatti (those who tie 
flower-buds). According to Mr. J. A. Boyle,t the name 
indicates Vellalas with wreaths of the aram flower, which 
is one of the decorations of Siva. They are, he writes, 
•* a tribal group established in a series of villages in the 
Ramnad territory. The family tradition runs that they 
emigrated five centuries ago from the Tondamandalam, 
and that the migration was made in devendra vimanam 
or covered cars ; and this form of vehicle is invariably 
used in marriage ceremonies for the conveyance of the 
bride and bridegroom round the village. The women 
never wear a cloth above the waist, but go absolutely 
bare on breast and shoulders. The two rivers which 
bound this district on the north and south are rigid 
limits to the travels of the women, who are on no pretext 
allowed to cross them. It is said that, if they make 

• M. Paupa Rao Naidu. History of Railway Thieves, 1900. 
t Ind. Ant. Ill, 1874. 

vellalA ^7^ 

vows to the deity of a celebrated temple in Tanjore, they 
have to perform their pilgrimage to the temple in the 
most perfect secrecy, and that, if detected, they are fined. 
Intermarriage is prohibited ' beyond the rivers.' It is, 
with the men, a tradition never to eat the salt of 
the Sirkar (Government), or take any service under 

2. Chetti. The members of the Vellalan sub- 
division of Chetti are " said to be pure Vellalas, who have 
taken the title of Chetti. In ancient times, they had the 
prerogative of weighing the person of kings on occasion 
oftheTulabharam ceremony. (5*^^ Tulabharam.) They 
were, in fact, the trading class of the Tamil nation in 
the south. But, after the immigration of the more skil- 
ful Telugu Komatis and other mercantile classes, the 
hereditary occupation of the Vellan Chettis gradually 
declined, and consequently they were obliged to follow 
different professions. The renowned poet Pattanattar is 
said to have belonged to this caste." * 

3. Karaikkat or Karkatta. The name is said to 
mean Vellalas who saved or protected the clouds, or 
waiters for rain. Their original profession is said to 
have been rain-making. Their mythological origin is as 

"In old times, a quarrel happened between the 
Raja of Pandya desa and the god Devendra, and things 
went to such lengths that the angry god commanded the 
clouds not to send down any rain on Pandya desa, so that 
the inhabitants were sorely distressed by the severe 
drought, and laid their complaints before the Raja, who 
flew into a rage, marched his army against Devendra, 
defeated him in battle, seized on the clouds and put them 

* Madras Census Report, 1891. 


379 VfeLLALA 

In prison, in consequence of which not a drop of rain fell 
on any part of the Bhuloka or earthly world, which 
threw the people into a great consternation, and the whole 
with one accord addressed their prayers to Devendra, 
the god of the firmament, and beseeched him to relieve 
them from their present distress. Devendra sent an 
ambassador to the Raja of Pandya desa, and requested that 
he would release the clouds, but he refused to do it unless 
they gave security for their future good behaviour, and 
likewise promise that they would never again withhold the 
rain from falling in due season on his kingdom. At this 
juncture, the Vellal caste of Pandya desa became security 
for the clouds, and, from that circumstance, were surnamed 
Karakava Vellal Waru, or redeemers of the clouds."* 
In an interesting account of the Karaikat Vellalas of the 
Palni hills by Lieutenant Ward in 1824 f, it is recorded 
that " their ceremonies, it is said, are performed by 
Pandarams, although Brahmans usually officiate as priests 
in their temples. They associate freely with the Kunna- 
vans, and can eat food dressed by them, as also the 
latter can eat food dressed by a Karakat Vellalan. But, 
if a Kunnavan is invited to the house of a Karakat 
Vellalan, he must not touch the cooking utensils, or enter 
the cooking-room. Wives are accustomed, it is supposed, 
to grant the last favor to their husband's relations. 
Adultery outside the husband's family entails expulsion 
from caste, but the punishment is practically not very 
severe, inasmuch as a Kunnavan can always be found 
ready to afford protection and a home to the divorcee. A 
man who disgraces himself by an illicit connection with 
a woman of a lower caste than his own is punished in a 
similar manner. Formerly the punishment was in either 

* Baramahal Records. f Manual of the Madura district. 


case death." It is recorded * that " in 1824 the Karakat 
Vellalas were accustomed to purchase and keep predial 
slaves of the Poleiya caste, giving thirty fanams for a 
male, and fifty for a female. The latter was held to be 
the more valuable, as being likely to produce children for 
the benefit of her owner." It is said that, among the 
Karaikkat Vellalas, a peculiar ceremony, called vilakkidu 
kalyanam, or the auspicious ceremony of lighting the 
light, is performed for girls in the seventh or ninth year 
or later, but before marriage. The ceremony consists in 
worshipping Ganesa and the Sun at the house of the 
girls' parents. Her maternal uncle gives her a necklace 
of gold beads and coral, and a new cloth. All the 
relations, who are invited to be present, make gifts to the 
girl. The women of this section wear this ornament, 
which is called kodachimani (hooked jewel), even after 

4. Kondaikatti. Said f to consider themselves as 
the highest and proudest of the Vellalas, because, during 
the Nabob's Government, they were employed in the 
public service. They are extremely strict in their 
customs, not allowing their women to travel by any 
public conveyance, and punishing adultery with the 
utmost severity. 

Kondaikatti literally means one who ties his hair in a 
knob on the top of his head, but the name is sometimes 
derived from kondai, a crown, in connection with the 
following legend. A quarrel arose between the Komatis 
and Vellalas, as to which of them should be considered 
Vaisyas. They appeared before the king, who, being 
unable to decide the point at issue, gave each party 
five thousand rupees, and told them to return after 

* Manual of the Madura district, 
t Manual of the North Arcot district. 


trading for five years. The Vellalas spent one-fifth of 
the sum which they received in cultivating land, while 
the Komatis spent the whole sum in trading. At the 
end of the allotted time, the Vellalas had a bumper 
crop of sugar-cane, and all the canes contained pearls. 
The KOmatis showed only a small profit. The king 
was so pleased with the Vellalas, that he bestowed on 
them the right to crown kings. 

5. Kumbakonam. Vellalas, who migrated from 
Kumbakonam in the Tanjore district to Travancore. 

6. Kummidichatti. Recorded, in the Manual of 
the North Arcot district, as a sub-division, regarded as 
low in position, which carried the pot (chatti) of fire at 
Vellala funerals. It is said that, in default of Kummidi- 
chattis, ordinary Vellalas now have to carry their own 
fire at funerals. 

7. Nangudi or Savalai Pillaimar. {See Nangudi.) 

8. Tendisai (southern country). They are found 
in the Coimbatore district, and it has been suggested 
that they are only a branch of the Konga Vellalas. 

9. Tenkanchi. Vellalas, who migrated from Ten- 
kasi in the Tinnevelly district to Travancore. {See 
Todupuzha Vellala.) 

10. Tuluva. Immigrants from the Tulu country, 
a part of the modern district of South Canara. Mr. 
Nelson * is of opinion that these are the original 
Vellalas, who were invited to Tondamandalam after its 
conquest by the Chola King Adondai Chakravarti. 
They are now found in all the Tamil districts, but are 
most numerous in North and South Arcot and Chingle- 
put. It is noted, in Carr's " Descriptive and historical 
papers relating to the Seven Pagodas," that " Adondai 

* Manual of the Madura district. 


chiefly distinguished Kanchipuram (Conjeeveram) and 
Tripati as his place of residence or capital. The era of 
Adondai is not higher up than the seventh century of our 
reckoning. He is said to have brought the Brahmans 
from Sri Sailam in Telingana, and certainly attracted 
a large colony of Sudra Vellalas, or agriculturists, 
from Tuluva or northern Canara." At Conjeeveram, 
there are a Nattar and a Desayi, whose authority, in 
olden times, extended over the whole Presidency. The 
Nattar must be a Tuluva Vellala, and the Desai a Ralla 
Balija. The two offices conjointly are known as the 
Nadu Desam. The authority of these officers has in 
great measure ceased, but some still go to the Nadu 
Desam for appeal. For purposes of caste organisation, 
Conjeeveram is regarded as the head-quarters. All 
sections of the Tondamandalam Vellalas are divided into 
twenty-four kottams and seventy-nine nadus. The latter 
are subject to the former. 

The following legendary account of the Tondamanda- 
lam Vellalas is given in the Baramahal Records. " During 
the reign of a certain Raja of Choladesa, a kingdom 
supposed to have comprised the present provinces south 
of the river Kaveri, the countries between the Kistna 
and Kaveri were quite a wilderness, in which many 
families of the Kurbavar caste or shepherds resided here 
and there in villages surrounded by mud walls. On a 
time, the Raja came forth into the wilds to take the 
diversion of hunting, and, in traversing the woods, he 
came to a place in the vicinity of the present town of 
Conjeeveram in the Kingdom of Arcot, where he met 
with a Naga Kanya or celestial nymph, fell in love with 
her, and asked her to yield to his embraces. She replied, 
' If I consent to your proposal, and bear you a son, will 
you make him your successor in the kingdom?' He 


rejoined * I will,' and she asked him who should witness 
his promise. He answered * the earth and sky,' but 
she said that two witnesses were not sufficient, and that 
there must be a third. There happened to be a tree 
called adhondha near them, and the Raja replied ' Let 
the fruit of this adhonda tree be the third witness.' 
When she was satisfied respecting the witnesses, she 
granted the Raja his desires, and, after he had remained 
with her a short time, he took his leave, and returned to 
his metropolis, and, in a little while, abdicated his throne 
in favour of his eldest son, who managed the affairs 
of the kingdom. To return to the Naga Kanya, she 
conceived and brought forth a son, who remained with 
her three or four years, and then visited the different 
Rishis or hermits who resided in the forest, and learnt 
from them to use the sword, the bow and arrow, and the 
art of war, and obtained from them a knowledge of the 
whole circle of sciences. By this time he had attained 
the age of sixteen years, and, coming to his mother, he 
requested her to tell him who was his father. She 
answered 'Thy father is the Chola Raja. He replied 
• I will go to him, but who is to bear witness to the truth 
of your assertion ? ' She rejoined 'The earth, sky, and 
the fruit of the adhonda tree are witness to what I have 
told you.' The son plucked one of the berries of the 
adhonda tree, hung it by a string to his neck, took his 
sword and other weapons, and set out for his father's 
capital. He one day took an opportunity of accompany- 
ing some of the nobles to the darbar, and called out to the 
old Raja * Behold your son.' The Raja replied ' I know 
nothing of thee ; ' upon which the young man repeated 
everything which his mother had told him, but it had no 
effect on the Raja. When the son found that his father 
was determined not to acknowledge him he challenged 


him to single combat, but the Raja, not thinking it 
proper to accept a challenge from a rash youth, 
demanded if he had any witnesses to prove his claim. 
He answered 'The earth and sky, and the fruit of the 
adhonda tree, which I wear suspended from my 
neck, are witnesses to the truth of my assertion.' 
This circumstance brought the old occurrence to the 
Raja's recollection, and he owned his son, and told 
him that, as he had already abdicated the throne, 
he trusted he would not insist upon the fulfilling of 
the promise which had been made to his mother, but 
consent to live in a private station under the dominion 
of his elder half-brother. The young man nobly 
replied ' I with pleasure waive the performance of your 
promise, but point out to me your enemy, and assist me 
with some troops, and I will conquer a kingdom for 
myself.' The Raja gave him an army, and directed him 
to subdue the Kurubavaru or shepherds, to clear the 
woods, and to form himself a kingdom between the rivers 
Kistna and Kaveri. He accordingly advanced into the 
wilderness, and, without meeting much opposition, soon 
subjected the Kurubavaru, who, knowing nothing of 
cultivation or sinking of tanks or watering the country 
from the rivers, and the conqueror wishing to introduce 
agriculture among them, he was obliged to repair to his 
father, and make known his difficulties. The Raja was 
much pleased with the enterprising spirit of his son, 
conferred on him the title of Adhonda Chakra, wrote 
and permitted him to take with him such of the Vellala 
caste as chose to emigrate. The young Raja held out 
great encouragement, and got a number of adventurers 
of that caste to accompany him back, to whom he gave 
large grants of waste land, and told them to pitch upon 
such spots of ground as met with their approbation, and 


they fixed upon the forts, districts, and villages belong- 
ing to the Kurubavaru caste, which consisted of twenty- 
four forts, eighty-one districts, and one thousand and 
nine hundred villages. This country was formerly 
named Dandaka Aranya. Dandaka is the name of a 
famous Rakshasa or Giant, who is mentioned in the 
Ramayana and Aranya signifies a wilderness. It was 
also called Dhuntra Nadu, or the middle country, and 
the new Raja named it Dhanda Mandalam, or country 
of the tree dhonda, alluding to the fruit of the adhonda 
or dhonda tree, which bore testimony to his descent. 
The emigrants of the Vellala caste surnamed themselves 
Dhonda Mandala Vellala varu, and are now corruptly 
called Tondamandala Vellala varu." 

In connection with the sub-divisions of the Vellalas, 
Mr. Hemingway, in a note on the Vellalas of the 
Trichinopoly district, gives some still further information. 
" The Kondaikattis are so-called from the peculiar way 
in which they used to wear their hair — a custom no 
longer observed. They are split into two sections, called 
Melnadu and Kilnadu (westerns and easterns). The 
Dakshinattans (south country men) are immigrants from 
Tinnevelly. The members of the Karaikkattar sub- 
division in the Udaiyarpalaiyam taluk are rather looked 
down on by other Vellalans as being a mixed race, and 
are also somewhat contemptuously called Yeruttu-mattu 
(pack-bullocks), because, in their professional calling, 
they formerly used pack-bullocks. They have a curious 
custom by which a girl's maternal uncle ties a tali 
(marriage badge) round her neck when she is seven or 
eight years old. The Panjukkara Chettis live in the 
Udaiyarpalaiyam taluk. The name is an occupational 
one, and denotes cotton-men, but they are not at the 
present day connected with the cotton trade. The 

vellAla 386 

Solapuram (or Cholapuram) Chettis are apparently 
called after the village of that name in the Kumba- 
konam taluk of Tanjore. The Solias (or Cholias) are 
numerous and ubiquitous. They are generally regarded 
as of doubtful descent, since parvenus, who wish to be 
considered Vellalans, usually claim to belong to this 
sub-division. The more respectable Pandarams, the 
Thambirans who own temples and matams, and the 
Oduvar or Adi Saival, belong to the Sozhia section. 
The Uttunattu sub-division is local in origin. Its head- 
quarters is the country round Uttatur. The members 
thereof are the special devotees of the Siva of that place. 
The Arunattus (six nadus) are also called Mottai 
(shaved) Vellalans, apparently because they always shave 
their moustache, and wear only a very small kudumi 
(hair-knot). Some of their customs are unlike those of 
the rest of the caste. They have exogamous septs, their 
widows always dress in white and wear no ornaments 
(a rule not universally observed in any other sub-division), 
they never marry their sister's daughter, and their wives 
wear the tali (marriage badge), like the Panta Reddis, 
on a golden thread. Of their six nadus, three of which 
are supposed to have been located on each side of the 
Aiyar river, only two are now recognised. These are the 
Serkudi nadu in Namakkal taluk and the Omandur 
nadu of Musiri. The Yelur (seven villages) Vellalas are 
very few and far between. There is a small colony of 
Tuluvas, engaged in dyeing, at Illuppur. The Malai- 
kandas are only found near the Ratnagiri hill in the 
Kulittalai taluk. They take their name from the fact 
that they are required to look at the Ratnagiri hill 
when they get up in the morning. They are devotees 
of the god there. The Kaniyalans (landowners) are 
scarce, but widely distributed, since the man who carries 



the pot of blood, when animals are sacrificed at festivals 
to the village goddesses, must belong to this sub- 
division. The Kodikkal Vellalans are so-called from 
their occupation of betel cultivation, which they still 
pursue largely." 

The Konga Vellalas differ so strikingly from the 
rest in many of their customs that a separate account of 
them is given. {See Konga Vellala.) 

It is noted by Mr. Hemingway that some Vellalas 
" observe a curious custom (derived from Brahmans) 
with regard to marriage, which is not unknown among 
other communities. A man marrying a second wife 
after the death of his first has to marry a plantain tree, 
and cut it down before tying the tali, and, in the case of a 
third marriage, a man has to tie a tali first to the erukkan 
(arka : Calotropis gigantea) plant. The idea is that second 
and fourth wives do not prosper, and the tree and the 
plant are accordingly made to take their places." 

A peculiar ceremony, called Sevvai (Tuesday) 
Pillayar, is performed by some Vellala women. It is 
also called Avvai Nonbu, because the Tamil poetess 
observed it. The ceremony takes place twice in the 
year, on a Tuesday in the months of Thai (February- 
March) and Audi (August-September). It is held at 
midnight, and no males, even babies in arms, may be 
present at it, or eat the cakes which are offered. A 
certain number of women club together, and provide 
the necessary rice, which is measured on the back of 
the hand, or in a measure similar to those used by 
Madras milk-sellers, in which the bottom is fixed high 
up in the cylinder. At the house where the ceremony 
is to be performed the rice is pounded into flour, and 
mixed with leaves of Pongamia glabra and margosa 
{Melia Azadirachtd). The mixture is then made into 
vii-25 B 


cakes, some flat, and some conical, to represent Pillayar 
(Ganesa). Flowers, fruits, betel, turmeric, combs, 
kunkumam (red powder), and other articles required in 
connection with the Pillayar worship, are also taken to 
the room in which the rites are performed. Of these 
it has been impossible to gather an account, as the 
women refused to describe them, lest ruin should fall on 
their families. Some say that, during the ceremony, the 
women are stark-naked. 

In an account of an annual ceremony at Trichinopoly 
in connection with the festival of Kulumai Amman, who 
is the guardian deity against epidemics, Bishop White- 
head records * that " a very fat pujari (priest) of the 
Vellala caste is lifted up above the vast crowd on the 
arms of two men. Some two thousand kids are then 
sacrificed, one after the other. The blood of the first 
eight or nine is collected in a large silver vessel holding 
about a quart, and handed up to the pujari, who drinks 
it. Then, as the throat of each kid is cut, the animal 
is handed up to him, and he sucks, or pretends to suck 
the blood out of the carcase." 

Of proverbs relating to the Vellalas, the following 
may be cited : — 

Agriculture is no agriculture, unless it is performed 
by the Vellalas. 

The Vellala ruined himself by gaudy dress ; the 
courtesan ruined herself by coquetry and affectation. 

Of all the sections of the Sudras, the Vellala is 
foremost ; and, of all the thefts committed in the world, 
those of the Kalians are most notorious. 

Though you may face an evil star, never oppose a 

* Madras Museum Bull., V. 3, 1907. 


Though apparently the Vellala will not ruin you, 
the palm leaf, on which he writes about you, will 
certainly ruin you for ever. 

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Vellala is 
recorded as a caste of Jains. In this connection, it is 
noted by Mr. Hemingway that the Nainans or Nayinars 
{q.v) and the Karaikkattans of the Udaiyarpalaiyam 
taluk are thought to be descended from Jains who were 
converted to the Hindu faith. 

Vellan Chetti.— A name, denoting Vellala merchant, 
taken by some Vellalas. 

Velli (silver).— 5^^ Belli. 

Velnati.— A sub-division of Kapu, named after the 
old Velnadu division of the Telugu country. 

Veloma.— Defined as " one of the two classes of 
Sudras, viz., Anuloma and Veloma. The term Veloma 
is applied to those born of a lower caste male and higher 
caste female." 

Veluttedan. — The Veluttedan is defined in the 
Madras Census Report, 1891, as "the washerman of 
the Nayars and higher castes in Malabar. He calls 
himself a Nayar, and, in many cases, was returned as 
of that main caste, but these have been separated in 
abstraction. The caste is called Vannattan in North 
Malabar. The Veluttedans follow the marumakka- 
tayam law of inheritance in the north, and makkatayam 
in the south. They have tali-kettu and sambandham 
separately. Their dress and habits are the same as 
those of Nayars." In the Madras Census Report, 
1 90 1, Bannata is given as a Canarese synonym for 
the caste name. Insithe Travancore and Cochin Census 
Reports, [901, Veluttetan and Veluthedan are given 
respectively as an occupational title and sub-division of 


For the following note on the Veluttedans of Tra- 
vancore, I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. 
The name is believed to signify a place where clothes 
are bleached. In the early Settlement Records the 
designation recorded is Ayavu, in all probability an old 
synonym for washing. The South Travancore Velut- 
tedans are said to be divided into two endogamous 
septs, Paravur and Attingal, with four exogamous septs 
in each ; but these distinctions may be said to have now 
lost their vigour and force. There is a current tradition 
that once upon a time a Brahman was washing cloths 
for a friend, and was on that account thrown out of 
caste by Parasurama. The occupation of the Velut- 
tedans is washing cloths for all high-caste Hindus down 
to the Sudras, in which profession, for neatness and purity 
at any rate, if not for promptitude, they stand above the 
Vannans and Chayakkarans of the east coast, both of 
whom have now entered the field in competition with 
them, and, at least in the most civilised parts of the State, 
not entirely without success. In no case do the caste- 
men receive cloths from classes lower in social rank than 
the Sudras, and this is pointed to with pride as one of 
the causes which keep them in their present elevated 
scale. It need hardly be said that, in their traditional 
occupation, the Veluttedans are largely and materially 
assisted by their females, the Veluttedathis. They do 
not live in a group together, but are conveniently 
scattered about, so as to avoid competition one with 
another. Their main profession is, in many cases, 
supplemented by agriculture. There are absolutely no 
educated men among them, and, as long as machine- 
laundries are not introduced into the country, they have 
no reason to abandon the profession of their forefathers 
in pursuit of alien ones. In the matter of food and 


drink, as also in their dress and ornaments, they resemble 
the Nayars. Clothes, it may be mentioned, are never 
bought by Veluttedans, as they are always in possession, 
though temporarily, of other peoples' apparel. Tattooing 
prevails only in South Travancore. They cannot enter 
Brahmanical shrines, but are permitted to stand out- 
side the talakkal or stone-paved walk round the inner 
sanctuary, by which the image is taken in daily proces- 
sion. Besides standing here and worshipping the higher 
Hindu deities, they also engage in the propitiation 
of the minor village deities. There are two headmen 
in each village, who punish social delinquents, and 
preside over caste ceremonials. On the twenty-eighth 
day after the birth of a child, the name-giving ceremony 
is performed, and a thread is tied round the infant's neck. 
Those who can afford it celebrate the first food-giving. 
The tali- tying and sambandham ceremonies are performed 
separately, just like Nayars. The former is known as 
muhurtham or auspicious occasion. The marriage badge 
is called unta minnu or puliyilla minnu. The details of 
the marriage ceremony do not differ from those of the 
Nayars. The ayani unu, bhutakkalam, appam poli, and 
avaltitti are all important items, and, at least in South 
Travancore, seldom failed to be gone through. In poor 
families the mother, without any formal ceremonial, 
ties the tali of the girl before she is twelve years old, 
after an oblation of cooked food to the rising sun. This 
is called Bhagavan tali, or god's marriage ornament. 
Freedom of divorce and remarriage exist. The pulikuti 
(tamarind) is an indispensable ceremonial, to be gone 
through by a pregnant woman. Inheritance devolves 
in the female line (marumakkattayam). The clothes 
washed by Veluttedans are used by Nambutiri Brahmans, 
without previous washing as on the east coast, for all 

VEMU 392 

religious purposes ; and clothes polluted by a member 
of a low caste are purified by the Veluttedan sprinkling 
ashes and water over them. 

Vemu (margosa or nim : Melia Azadirachta). — An 
exogamous sept of Muka Dora. 

Vengai Puli (cruel-handed tiger). — An exogamous 
section of Kalian. 

Veralu Iche Kapulu or Velu Iche Kapulu (those 
who dedicate their fingers). — See Morasu. 

Veshya (Sansk : Beshya). — A name denoting pros- 
titute, applied to dancing-girls. 

Vetagiri.— A Tamil class found in the Chingleput 
district. The members thereof are employed in hunting, 
cultivation, and the manufacture of wild date baskets. 
Their title is Nayakan. 

Vettaikaran (hunter). — An occupational name of 
Boyas, Irulas, and Koravas, returned at times of census. 

Vettile (betel vine : Piper Betle). — A kothu or tree 
of Kondaiyamkotti Maravans. 

Vettiyan.— Vettiyan is the name applied to one of 
the officials of a Tamil Paraiyan settlement, who is also 
called Toti or Thotti. The former title is said to be more 
respectful as an appellation than the latter, but this is a 
distinction without a difference.* The name Vettiyan 
is said to be equivalent to Bittiyan (bitti, for nothing), 
or one who does service, e.g., collecting grass, firewood, 
etc., without remuneration. Toti is derived from thott, 
to go round, as he is the purveyor of news, and has to 
summon people to appear before the village tribunal, or 
from tondu, to dig. 

The duties of the Vettiyan are multifarious. He 
it is who goes round the rice fields, and diverts the 

* Manual of the Salem district, 1883. 


water-courses to the various fields, according to the rights 
of the ryots (agriculturists). The Vettiyan beats the 
drum for public notices and ceremonies. As a servant of 
Government, he has to carry the revenue which has been 
collected to the treasury. He is sometimes entrusted 
with large sums of money, and has never been known to 
abscond with it. It is said that the Village Munsiff will 
trust the Vettiyan, but not the Taliari, who is never sent 
alone with money. The Vettiyan is i-n charge of the 
burial ground, and those who repair thither have to pay 
him for his services. He is also the grave-digger, and 
officiates when a Paraiyan corpse is burnt or buried. 
Hence the Tamil proverb against meddling in what 
ought to be left to some one else : — " Let the Vettiyan 
and corpse struggle together." At a Paraiyan funeral, 
the Vettiyan, in some places, carries the pot of fire to the 
grave. To bring down rain, some of the lower classes, 
instead of addressing their prayers to the rain-god 
Varuna, try to induce a spirit or devata named 
Kodumpavi (wicked one) to send her paramour Sukra to 
the affected area. The belief seems to be that Sukra 
goes away to his concubine for about six months, and, if 
he does not return, drought ensues. The ceremony 
consists in making a huge figure of Kodumpavi in clay, 
which is placed on a cart, and dragged through the 
streets for seven to ten days. On the last day, the final 
death ceremonies of the figure are celebrated. It is 
disfigured, especially in those parts which are usually con- 
cealed. Vettiyans, who have been shaved, accompany 
the figure, and perform the funeral ceremonies. This 
procedure is believed to put Kodumpavi to shame, and to 
get her to induce Sukra to return and stay the drought. 

At Paraiyan marriages certain pots are worshipped, 
and it is, in some places, the Vettiyan who says " The 


sun, the moon, the pots, and the owner of the girl have 
come to the marriage booth. So make haste, and fill the 
pots with water." 

The office of the Vettiyan village official is hereditary, 
and the holder of it is entitled to some respect among his 
brethren, and to certain emoluments in kind, e.g., grain at 
the harvest season. There is a proverb that " whatever 
may be the wealth of the lord who comes to rule over 
him, his duty of supplying him with a bundle of grass is 
not to cease." This relates to the demands which were, 
and perhaps are still, made on him in rural parts of the 
country. In some places, lands, called Vettiyan Maniyam, 
are given rent-free to Vettiyans. 

The Vettiyan is said to possess the right of removing 
dead cattle from villages, and in return to supply leather 
for agricultural purposes. He is further said to make 
drum heads and tom-toms from raw hides.* 

The Vettiyans belong to the right-hand section during 
disputes between the right and left hand factions. 

Vettuvan.— The Tamil Vettuvans are described, in 
the Madras Census Report, 1901, as "an agricultural 
and hunting caste, found mainly in Salem, Coimbatore, 
and Madura. The name means ' a hunter.' They are 
probably of the same stock as the Vedans, though the 
exact connection is not clear, but they now consider 
themselves superior to that caste, and are even taking to 
calling themselves Vettuva Vellalas. Tradition says that 
the Konga kings invited Vettuvans from the Chola and 
Pandya countries to assist them against the Keralas. 
Another story says that the caste helped the Chola king 
Aditya Varma to conquer the Kongu country during 
the latter part of the ninth century. In paragraph 538 of 

• A. Chattcrton. Monograph on Tanning and Working in Leather, 1 904, 


the Census Report, 1891, reference is made to the belief 
that the Vedans are identical with the Veddahs of Ceylon. 
In connection with this supposition, it is reported that 
the Vettuvans worship a goddess called Kandi-Amman, 
which may possibly mean ' the goddess of Kandy ' (in 
Ceylon). Of the endogamous sections into which the 
caste is divided, the most numerically important are 
Venganchi, Kilangu (root), Pasari, Viragu (firewood), 
Pannadai (sheath of the cocoanut leaf), and Villi (bow). 
They have their own barbers, who seem also to form 
a separate sub-division, and are called Vettuva Ambattans 
or Navidans, both of which words mean barber. They 
are said to refuse to serve any one lower than a Konga 
Vellala. Nominally they are Hindus, but they are said 
to worship the seven Kannimars, or aboriginal god- 
desses, to whom the Irulas also pay homage. They eat 
meat and drink alcohol, though some of those who are 
endeavouring to increase their social repute are taking 
to vegetarianism. Widow marriage is forbidden. They 
either burn or bury the dead, but no ceremonies are 
performed for deceased ancestors. Their customs are 
thus a curious mixture of those followed by high castes 
and low ones. Their ordinary title is Kavandan." 

Of the Malayalam Vettuvans, who live in Malabar 
and the southern portion of the South Canara district, it 
is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that 
they are "agricultural serfs, shikaris (hunters), and 
collectors of forest produce, who live in the Malabar 
jungles. They have two endogamous sub-divisions, 
called Kodi and Peringala. The former keep their hair 
long, and their women wear a cloth. The latter have 
top -knots, and their women dress in leaves, which they 
wear only round their waists, and renew daily. The 
latter are an unclean set of people, who live in rude 


bamboo and reed huts, and will eat anything down to 
carrion. Yet they consider themselves superior to 
Cherumans and Pulaiyans, and are careful not to be 
polluted by them. This same name is also borne by 
a class of masons and salt-workers in the low country in 

The Malabar Vettuvans are said to have a fantastic 
legend, showing that they were not originally as low as 
they are at the present day in the social scale. " It is 
related that one of their tribe went and asked a high-caste 
Nayar to give him a daughter in marriage. The Nayar 
offered to do so on condition that the whole tribe would 
come to his place and dance on berries, each one who 
fell to be shot with arrows. The tribe foolishly agreed 
to the condition, and went and danced, with the result 
that, as each one tripped and fell, he or she was 
mercilessly shot dead with arrows. A little girl who 
survived this treatment was secretly rescued, and taken 
away by a compassionate Nayar, who married her into 
his family. From this union, the present day Vettuvans 
affirm their origin is to be traced. Up to this day they 
hold the caste of that particular Nayar in very great 
veneration." * The costume of these Vettuvans has been 
described as follows.t " The men wear a short loin- 
cloth, secured round the waist by a belt which is also 
used as a sling during hunting expeditions. They also 
wear brass ear-rings, and grow a bit of moustache, and 
a little stumpy beard. The dress of the women consists 
of three clusters of long leaves, suspended from the waist 
and tied on by a cheap girdle. According to a tribal 
legend, when, in the morning of time, costumes were being 
distributed by the deity to the various races of the earth, 

* Madras Mail, 1907. f /did. 


the Vettuva women, being asked to choose between 
a costume which needed to be changed daily, and one 
which needed to be changed only yearly, readily 
expressed a preference for the former, and the deity, 
considering this an unpardonable piece of vanity, decreed 
that thenceforth the women should dress in leaves 
gathered fresh every morning. Whenever it is suggested 
to them that they should adopt some more lasting apparel, 
the Vettuva women answer that they are carrying out the 
mandate of the deity, and can abandon their present 
dress only if the deity appears in person, and sanctions 
a change." 

On the occasion of a recent visit of the Governor of 
Madras to South Canara, a party of Vettuvans was 
paraded before him. One of the men ^as wearing an 
aluminium coronation medal, and, on being asked by the 
Collector who had given it to him, he folded his arms 
obsequiously, and replied ' My Tamburan' (landlord). 

In a recent note on the leaf-wearing Vettuvans, it is 
stated that " they believe that the sun travels, after it has 
set, through a hole in the bowels of the earth, and 
emerges at morning in the east. The way they calculate 
time is interesting. A Vettuvan says that his children 
were born when his master sowed paddy (rice) on such 
and such hills. They are a very truthful lot, of good 
moral character, the chastity of their womankind being 
held very sacred." 

The Malabar Vettuvans are summed up by Mr. 
T. K. Gopal Panikkar * as being " not exactly slaves, 
but their social position justifies their classification 
amongst the slave races. They live on the cocoanut 
plantations of the Nairs, and other well-to-do classes. 

* Malabar and its Folk, 1900. 


They lead a hand-to-hand existence on the wages which 
they obtain for hedging and fencing cocoanut plantations, 
plucking cocoanuts, tilling, and other allied work. They 
live, with their wives and children, and sometimes 
other relations as well, in houses small but more decent- 
looking than the mere huts of the other lower classes. 
In point of caste restrictions they are certainly better 
circumstanced ; and their daily contact with the higher 
classes in the ordinary concerns of life affords them 
greater facilities for increased knowledge and civilisation 
than their brother citizens of the slave races enjoy. 
They are much addicted to toddy-drinking, but their 
principal food is rice. Their condition is never so 
intolerably wretched as that of the other classes. They 
are sometimes employed by cultivators for agricultural 
purposes. Their females occupy themselves in the fields 
during the harvest season, but they also make thatch for 
houses of cocoanut leaves woven after a set model 
during the thatching season about December or January. 
Their males wear ear-rings of brass, and their females 
adorn themselves with nose, finger, and neck ornaments 
of brass or beads. The one piece of cloth supplied 
annually by the masters, to whose plantations they are 
attached, forms the dress both for males and females, 
which they tie round their waists. They do not eat 
carrion, but are exceedingly fond of fish, the flesh of the 
civet, and the rat, and of some other animals not generally 
eaten by other classes. They observe death pollution 
like the higher classes of Malabar, and the period of 
observance varies according to the particular class 
or caste, to which their masters belong. For instance, 
if they belong to a Nair's plantation, such period is 
fifteen days, and, if to a Brahmin's, it is ten days ; 
Nairs and Brahmins observing pollution for these periods 


respectively. The priests who officiate at their cere- 
monials are selected from among their own tribesmen or 
Enangers, whose express recognition is necessary to give 
validity to the performance of the ceremony. Their 
marriage customs are very like those of the Tiyyars, 
excepting that the feasting and revelry are not so pomp- 
ous in their case. Like the Nairs, they retain the front 
knot. The only offences of general occurrence among 
them are petty cases of theft of cocoanuts, plantains, 
areca nuts, and roots of common occurrence. The Vettu- 
vans believe in a Supreme Creator, whom they name and 
invoke as Paduchathampuram, i.e., the king who created 
us. Likewise, they believe in certain evil deities, to 
whom they make offerings at particular times of the year. 
They are not, like the other classes, distinguished by 
loyalty to their masters, but are a very ungrateful sect, 
and their very name, viz., Nambu Vettuvan, has passed 
into a bye-word for ingratitude of all kinds." 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that 
" the Vettuvans of Chirakkal taluk are a low caste of 
jungle cultivators and basket makers, distinguished by 
the survival amongst their women of the custom of 
dressing in leaves, their only clothing being a kind of 
double fan-shaped apron of leaves tied round the waist 
with a rolled cloth. They live in huts made of split 
bamboo and thatched with elephant grass, called 
kudumbus. The Vettuvans are divided into fourteen 
illams, which seem to be named after the house names 
of the janmis (landlords) whom they serve. Their 
headmen, who are appointed by their janmis, are called 
Kiran, or sometimes Parakutti (drummer). Amongst the 
Vettuvans, when labour begins, the woman is put in a 
hole dug in a corner of the hut, and left there alone with 
some water till the cry of the child is heard." 


For the following note on the Vettuvans of the 
Cochin State, I am indebted to Mr. L. K. Anantha 
Krishna Aiyar.* 

" The Vettuvans are also called Vettuva Pulayas. 
They are pure agricultural labourers, taking part in 
every kind of work connected with agriculture, such as 
ploughing, sowing, weeding, transplanting, pumping 
water, and reaping. They are more day labourers. 
The males get two edangazhis of paddy (hardly worth 
2 annas), and the females an edangazhi and a half. 
In times of scarcity, they find it difficult to support 

"When an unmarried woman becomes pregnant, her 
parents, as soon as they become aware of the fact, inform 
their local headman (Kanakkan or Kuruppan), who 
convenes a meeting of the elderly members of the com- 
munity for the purpose of summoning the secret lover, 
and prosecuting the necessary enquiries. In the event 
of the confession of the charge, he is asked to marry her. 
The matter does not end there. They go to the local 
Thandan, and relate to him the incident, who thereupon 
gives him water in a vessel (kindi vellam). The woman 
is asked to drink this as well as some cow-dunged water, 
and is then made to let flow a few drops of blood from 
the body. After this he says ' dhosham thirnu ' (free 
from guilt). Should, however, the lover be unwilling 
to marry her, he is thrashed and placed under a ban. 
If they are related to each other, they are both turned 
out of caste. The woman who is freed from guilt can 
marry again. The Thandan gets as his perquisite four 
annas out of the fine imposed, four packets of betel 
leaf, eight areca nuts, and three tobacco leaves. Their 

* Monograph, Ethnological Survey of Cochin, 1905. 



headman also has a share of the fine, etc. The balance 
which then remains is spent on toddy, and beaten rice 
for those assembled. 

" The Vettuvans profess the lower forms of Hindu- 
ism. Their chief gods are Chevva, Chathan, Karinkutti, 
Parakutti, Kappiri and Kandakaranan, and also Namburi 
Thamburan. They give regular offerings to them, lest 
the gods should become angry, and cause serious 
calamities to the members of their families. Images of 
gods are made of bell-metal, and worshipped in their 
huts. The deceased ancestors are also worshipped as 
gods, to whom are given a different kind of offerings. 
Toddy is an indispensable item in their offerings to them. 
In Ooragam and its neighbourhood, when I took my 
notes on the Vettuvans, I was told that there was no 
tree-tapping, and that toddy brought to them for sale 
was largely adulterated with water, and very costly. 
Their gods were very angry, for they were not satisfied 
with it. They caused fever, deafness, blindness, and 
other disorders. They worship Kali also. Kumbhom 
Bharani is an important festival to them. On the 
morning of this day, tunes are played in honour of the 
goddess. There are special songs called Thottampattu. 
Sacrifices are offered to the deity very early. A puja 
(worship) is also performed for the sword, anklets, and 
bells worn round the loins, all placed in front of the 
deity, and songs are again sung. One of them turns a 
Velichchapad (oracle), who speaks as if by inspiration. 
Wearing the above ornaments, they go to a temple, in 
front of which they empty out on a mat a few paras of 
paddy, and again play and sing. 

" The funeral ceremonies of the Vettuvans are 
somewhat elaborate. When a member of the caste 
breathes his last, his relations, friends, and other 


castemen of the kara (settlement) are all informed of the 
event. They attend, and take part in the obsequies. 
The dead body is bathed, and dressed in a piece of new 
cloth. Some gold, rubbed on a stone in water, is poured 
into his mouth by his sons and daughters. Karuvan- 
guka, or Gurutvam Vanguka, is an important ceremony 
performed by his sons and daughters. It consists in 
taking sixteen small bits of plantain leaves, with some 
rice on each, and placing them on the forehead, neck, 
chest, loins, thighs, hands, legs, feet, etc., washing the 
last two, and collecting the water, which is taken in by 
the members junior to him in the family. After this, 
the dead body is placed on the bier, which is carried by 
four persons to the grave. The nearest relatives of the 
family, four in number, called Bhedakars, with a mundu 
(cloth) tied round their heads, walk in front of the 
procession. The grave is dug, and a new cloth is 
spread, and the corpse laid on it. It is filled in with 
layers of earth and stones, to prevent dogs and jackals 
from disturbing the dead body. All those who have 
accompanied the chief mourner bathe, and return home. 
The members of the family fast for the night. The 
eldest son, who is the chief mourner, bathes in the early 
morning, and offers the pinda bali (offering of rice) to 
the spirit of the departed for fifteen days. On the 
seventh day, the chief mourner, and the Enangan, go to 
the graveyard, and level the slightly raised part of the 
grave. A piece of stone, kept near the foot, is taken, 
and placed on a leaf. Some toddy, arrack (alcoholic 
liquor) and water of the tender cocoanut, are poured 
over it as offerings. By some magic, the spirit is 
supposed to be living in it. It is brought home, and 
placed in a cocoanut shell containing oil mixed with 
turmeric, and kept outside the hut until the pollution is 


over. The pollution lasts for fifteen days, and on the 
night of the fifteenth day they fast. On the morning of 
the sixteenth day, all the castemen of the kara who are 
invited bring with them rice, curry-stuffs, and toddy. 
Rubbing themselves with oil, they all go to bathe, after 
which the Enangan sprinkles cowdunged water, to show 
that they are freed from pollution. The stone is also 
purified by a dip in water, and then brought home. 
Those who have assembled are fed, and then depart. 
The chief mourner, who has to perform the diksha, does 
not shave for a year, bathes in the early morning, and 
offers the bali before going to work. This he continues 
for a year, at the end of which he gets himself shaved, 
and celebrates a feast called masam in honour of the 
departed. The stone, representing the deceased, is 
placed on a seat in a conspicuous part of the hut. An 
image of wood or copper sometimes takes its place. It 
is thenceforward worshipped, and believed to watch over 
the welfare of the family. Regular offerings are given to 
it on Karkadagom and Thulam Sankranthi, Onam, Vishu, 
and the festival day of the local temple. 

" The castes below the Vettuvans are Pulayan, 
Nayadi, and Ullatan. They consider themselves supe- 
rior to Pulayas, and are careful not to be polluted by 
them. A Vettuvan who is polluted by a Nayadi or 
Ulladan fasts for seven days, subsisting on water, tender 
cocoanuts, and toddy. On the eighth day he bathes, and 
takes his regular meals. As the Vettuvans are Chanda- 
lars, any distance less than sixty-four feet will pollute the 
higher castes. They stand at a distance of twenty-four 
feet from Kammalar. Nayadis and Ullatans stand far 
from them. Owing to their disabilities and low wages, 
many turn either Christians or Muhammadans, and work 
for wages of two and a half to three annas a day." 

VII-26 B 


There is a class of people in Malabar called Vettan 
or Vettuvan, which must not be confused with the jungle 
Vettuvan. These people were, it is said,* " once salt- 
makers, and are now masons, earth-workers, and quarry- 
men. They are said to be divided into two classes, the 
marumakkattayam (with inheritance in the female line) 
regarded as indigenous to Malabar, and the makkat- 
tayam (with inheritance from father to son), said to be 
immigrants from the south." 

Vibhaka Gunta. — Recorded in the Madras Census 
Report as " a low class of wandering beggars ; clubbed 
with Mala." Some Malas in the Vizagapatam district 
possess gunta manyams, or petty fields, and supplement 
their income by begging. 

Vignesvara. — A synonym for the elephant god 
Ganesa, which occurs as a gotra of Nagaralu. The 
equivalent Vinayaka is a gotra of Medara. 

Vilkurup.^The Vilkuruppu or Vilkollakuruppu are 
the priests and barbers of the Malayalam Kammalans, 
and also makers of umbrellas and bows (vil) and arrows. 
In former times they supplied the latter articles for 
the Malabar Infantry. Malabar and Travancore are, par 
excellence, the home of the palm-leaf umbrella, which still 
holds its own against umbrellas of European manufacture, 
which were, in 1904- 1905, imported into India to the value 
of Rs. 18,95,064. A native policeman, protecting himself 
from the sun with a long-handled palm umbrella, is a 
common object in towns and villages on the west coast. 

Concerning the Vilkurups of the Cochin State, Mr. 
L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyar writes as follows. f " In 
former times, their occupations were training low caste 
men to arms and athletic feats, to use sticks in fighting, 

* Gazetteer of Malabar. t Monograpb» Eth. Survey of Cochin. 

405 vilyakAra 

and also to the use of bows and arrows, and pial school 
teaching. In these days of civilisation, their services are 
no longer required for these purposes, and they are em- 
ployed in shampooing, umbrella making, and quarrying 
laterite stones for building purposes. In Nayar families, 
during tali-tying ceremonies, they have to give a bow 
and a few arrows. During the Onam festival also, they 
have to give a bow and arrows to every Nayar house, for 
which they get some paddy (rice), curry stuffs, a cocoanut, 
and some oil. When they are called in for shampooing, 
three oils are well boiled, and cooled. The patient lies 
on a plank, oil is poured over him, and every part of his 
body is well shampooed, and afterwards he is bathed in 
water boiled with medicinal herbs. The Vilkurups eat 
at the hands of Brahmans, Nayars, Izhuvans, and 
Kammalans, but abstain from taking the food of barbers, 
washermen, Panans, Kaniyans, and other low castes. 
They have to stand at a distance of thirty-two feet from 
Brahmans and Nayars. Pulayans and Parayans have to 
stand at a great distance. They live in localities occupied 
by the Izhuvans. They cannot approach the Brahman 
temples, but have to stand far away from the outer wall. 
They are their own barbers and washermen." 

Villasan (bowmen). — A synonym of Malayalam Kam- 
malans, who formerly had to supply bows and arrows for 
the Travancore army. 

Villi.^Villi (bow) or Villiyan (bowmen) has been 
recorded as a synonym of the Irulas of Chingleput. Villi 
also occurs as a sub-division of Vettuvan, a hunting caste 
of the Tamil country. 

Villu Vedan (huntsmen using bows). — A synonym 
of Eravallar. 

Vilyakara.— Recorded, in the Madras Census Re- 
port, 1901, as "a sub-caste of Servegara or Kotegara." 

VINKA 406 

Vilyakara, Valekara and Olekara are names indicating 
the occupation of a servant under Government or a 
private individual. 

Vinka (white-ant : Termites). — An exogamous sept 
of Jatapu. 

Vipravinodi.— In a note on the Vipravinodis, Mr. C. 
Hayavadana Rao writes that they are said to be the 
descendants of a Brahman by a Lingayat woman. They 
are Lingayats, and are called Vipravinodi because they 
perform acrobatic feats before Vipras, or Brahmans. 
They generally travel about the country with their 
wives and children. One of their favourite feats is 
throwing up three stone or wooden balls in the air, 
and catching them, or rolling them over various parts 
of the body. When they perform before a mixed 
audience, they call themselves Naravidya varu, which 
is said to be an abbreviated form of Narulu Mechche 
Vidyalu Chese varu, or those who perform feats 
which men praise. The dead are buried in a sitting 

Virabhadra.— A synonym of the Tamil washermen 
(Vannan), whose patron deity is Virabhadra, from whom 
they claim descent. 

Viragu (firewood). — A sub-division of Vettuvan. 

Virakudiyan.— A synonym of Panisavans, who are 
engaged in blowing the conch shell on ceremonial 

Virala (heroes). — An exogamous sept of Golla and 

Vira Magali (a god). — An exogamous section of 

Viramushti.— For the following account of the 
Viramushtis in the Vizagapatam district, I am indebted 
to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. 


They are Lingayats, but do not, as a rule, wear the 
Ungam, as it is the custom to postpone initiation until 
death, when the linga is tied on the corpse by a Jangam 
before it is buried. Those who are initiated during life 
wear the linga suspended from the neck. The Vira- 
mushtis seem to have several sub-divisions, e.^"., Naga 
Mallika {^Rhinacanthus comnmnis), the roots of which 
are believed to cure snake-bite, Puccha Kaya {Citrulhis 
Colocyntkis), Triputa (^IponicBa Turpethuni), and Rama- 
dosa {Cuatmis Meld). 

Girls are married before or after puberty. The 
menarikam custom, according to which a man should 
marry his maternal uncle's daughter, is observed. A 
voli (bride-price) of sixteen rupees, or half a tola of gold, 
in the form of jewelry, is given to the bride. 

The Viramushtis are professional acrobats and 
mendicants, and are attached to the Devangas and 
Komatis. The following legends are current to account 
for their connection with these castes. In days gone 
by, there was, in a big town, a great Lingayat mutt 
(monastery) named Basavanna Mandiram, presided over 
by a Jangam priest named Basavanna. The mutt 
contained three hundred crores of Lingayat priests, and 
great wealth was stored in it. This the Viramushtis 
guarded against thieves. A Telaga, Chikayya by name, 
who was a professional thief, determined to plunder the 
mutt, in order to satisfy his mistress. One night, when the 
Viramushtis were fast asleep, he entered the mutt, but, 
when he saw a number of Jangams engaged in devout 
worship, he abandoned his project, and determined to 
turn Lingayat. Accordingly, at day-break, he advanced 
to the place where the head of the mutt was seated, 
made known to him who he was, and informed him of 
his resolution. Opinions were divided as to the fitness of 


receiving such an applicant, but it was finally decided 
that, if a man repented, he was a fit person to be received 
into the Lingayat fold, as the linga recognises no caste. 
The linga was accordingly tied on his neck. From that 
time Chikayya became a new man and a true Jangam, and 
went from place to place visiting sacred shrines. One 
day he happened to be at a place where lived a merchant 
prince, who never dined except in the company of a 
Jangam. On the suggestion of his wife Nllakuntaladevi, 
an invitation to dine was sent to Chikayya, who accepted 
it. After dinner, the merchant went out on business, and 
Nllakuntaladevi, noticing what a beautiful man Chikayya 
was, fell in love with him. He, however, rejected her 
advances, and ran away, leaving his knapsack behind 
him. Nllakuntaladevi cut off her golden necklace, and, 
having placed it in the knapsack, ran after Chikayya, 
and threw it at him, asking him to accept it. She then 
inflicted several cuts on herself, and, as soon as her 
husband returned home, complained that the Jangam 
had stolen her necklace, and attempted to ravish her. 
Information was sent to Basayya, the head of the mutt, 
and a council meeting summoned, at which it was 
decided that Chikayya should have his head cut off. 
The order to carry out this act was given to the Vira- 
mushtis, who went in search of him, and at last found 
him beneath the shade of a tree overhanging the bank of 
a river, engaged in worshipping his linga, which was in 
his hand. On searching the knapsack, they found the 
necklace, and proceeded to cut off Chikayya's head, 
which went several hundred feet up into the air, and 
travelled towards the mutt, whither the headless trunk 
followed on foot. On their return to the mutt, the 
Viramushtis found that the three hundred crores of 
priests had been miraculously beheaded, and the place 



was a vast pool of blood. As soon, however, as the 
head and body of Chikayya approached, they became 
re-united, and Siva, appearing on the scene, translated 
him to kylas (heaven). At the same time, he restored 
the priests to life, and inflicted the following four curses 
on the Viramushtis : — (i) they were not to build or use 
houses, and are consequently found living under trees 
outside villages ; (2) they were not to sleep on a cot ; 
(3) they were not to use the wild broom-stick ; (4) they 
were not to set up permanent ovens for cooking purposes, 
but to make impromptu stoves out of three stones. 
Taking compassion on them, the Devangas promised to 
give the Viramushtis a small sum of money annually, and 
to contribute towards their marriage expenses. 

The Viramushtis are said to have become attached to 
the Komatis subsequent to the above incident. The 
story goes that some Komatis asked them to delay for 
three and half hours the march of Vishnu vardhana Raja, 
who was advancing with a view to marrying the daughter 
of one of them, named Vasavakanya (now deified into 
Kanyakamma). This the Viramushtis did by entertaining 
the Raja with their acrobatic feats. Meanwhile, the 
Komatis made a number of fire-pits, and put an end to 
themselves. Vishnuvardhana arrived too late, and had 
his head cut off. The Viramushtis prayed to Vasava- 
kanya, inasmuch as they had lost both the Raja, who 
promised them a grant of land in return for their 
performance, and herself, who had promised to give a 
lump of gold to each gotra. The Komatis replied in a 
body that each family of their caste would in future give 
the Viramushtis an annual present of money, and help in 
defraying the expenses of their marriages. 

In accordance with the above legends, the Viramushtis 
usually beg only from Devangas and Komatis. When 

ViRAMUSHtl 416 

they approach a village, they generally halt under a tree, 
and, early in the morning, dress up as acrobats, and appear 
with daggers, sticks, etc., crying Good luck ! Good luck ! 
They caper about as they advance, and, when they reach 
a Devanga or Komati house, perform their acrobatic 
feats, and wind up with a eulogium of the caste. Money 
and food are then doled out to them. 

Whenever a Devanga, Lingayat Komati, or other 
Lingayat wants to make a hero (vira) of a deceased 
member of his family, he sends for a Viramushti (or hero- 
maker), and has a slab planted, with a recognised 
ceremonial, at the spot where he is buried. 

In a further note on the Viramushtis I am informed 
that they correspond to the Virabhadra Kayakams 
of the Canarese Lingayats, like whom they dress up, 
and adorn themselves with small lingams, the figure of 
Virabhadra, a sword, a plate bearing a star, and heads 
of Asuras (demons). Every important Saivite temple 
has one or two Viramushtis attached to it, and they 
are supposed to be servants of the god Siva. One of 
their chief duties is to guard the idol during processions, 
and on other occasions. If, during a car procession, 
the car will not move, the Viramushtis cut themselves 
with their swords until it is set in motion. There is 
a Tamil proverb that the Siva Brahman (temple priest) 
eats well, whereas the Viramushti hurts himself with 
the sword, and suffers much. The custom is said to be 
dying out. 

The principal occupation of the Viramushtis is 
begging from Beri Chettis, Devangas, Komatis, and 
washermen. In former days, they are said to have 
performed a ceremony called pavadam. When an 
orthodox Lingayat was insulted, he would swallow his 
lingam, and lie flat on the ground in front of the house 


of the offender, who had to collect some Lingayats, who 
would send for a Viramushti. He had to arrive accom- 
panied by a pregnant Viramushti woman, pujaris (priests) 
of Draupadi, Pachaiamman and Pothuraja temples, a 
Sembadava pujari, Pambaikarans, Udukkaikarans, and 
some individuals belonging to the nearest Lingayat mutt. 
Arrived at the house, the pregnant woman would sit 
down in front of the person lying on the ground. With 
his sword the Viramushti man then made cuts in his 
scalp and chest, and sprinkled the recumbent man with 
the blood. He would then rise, and the lingam would 
come out of his mouth. Besides feeding the people, the 
offender was expected to pay money as pavadam to the 
Viramushtis and mutts. 

Some Viramushtis style themselves Vastad, or 
athletes, in reference to their professional occupation. 

Viranattan.— The name denotes those who play on 
a drum called viranam. It is recorded, in the Madras 
Census Report, 1901, that the Viranattans "were 
originally temple servants, but now do miscellaneous day 
labour. Their females are prostitutes. Their titles are 
Mestri and Mudali." 

Viranollu.^Viranollu and Viththanollu are gotras 
of Ganigas, who may not cut the wood-apple (J^erom'a 

Virasaiva.^A synonym for Lingayat. Some Linga- 
yats claim to be Virasaiva Brahmans. 

Visalakshiamma. — Recorded, in the Manual of 
the North Arcot district, as a sub-division of Vaniyan. 
Visalakshiamma is the goddess of Benares, who is said 
to be the sister of Minakshi of Madura and Kamakshi 
of Conjeeveram. Visalakshi means literally one with 
beautiful eyes, and is a name of Parvati, who is described 
as possessing large and beautiful eyes. 


Viswakarma.— Viswakarma and Viswa Brahman 
are synonyms for Kammalan, the members of which class 
claim descent from the five faces of Viswakarma, the 
architect of the gods. 

Vitugula-vandlu.— A fanciful name, meaning 
hunters or gallants, adopted by Boyas. 

Vodari.— 6"^^ Odari. 

Vodda. — See Odde. 

Vodo.— A small caste of Oriya basket-makers and 
cultivators in the Vizagapatam agency. 

Vojali. — See Ojali. 

Vokkiliyan (cultivator). — A sub-division of Kappi- 
liyan, and Tamil form of Vakkaliga. [See Okkiliyan.) 

Vudupulavallu.— An occupational name for Balijas, 
Velamas, etc., who paint chintzes. 

Vyadha (forest men). — A synonym of Myasa Bedars. 

Vyapari.— A trading section of Nayar. 

Vyasa (the name of a sage or rishi). — A sub-division 
of Balija. 

Wahabi.— The Wahabis are a sect of Muslim 
revivalists founded by Muhammad ibn ' Abdu'l Wahhab, 
who was born in A.D. 1691. Wahabyism has been 
defined as the Puritanism of Islam, "hated by the so- 
called orthodox Musalmans, as the Lutherans were hated 
by Leo, and the Covenanters by Claverhouse."* It is 
recorded, in the Manual of North Arcot (1895), that 
since 1806 (the year of the Vellore mutiny) "two alarms 
have been raised in the district, both at Vellore, which 
is largely inhabited by Muhammadans. The last alarm 

* Ind. Ant., X, 1881, p. 69. 

413 WYNAD 

occurred in 1869. Early in May of that year, anonymous 
petitions were received by the Joint Magistrate and 
the Assistant Superintendent of Police, stating that the 
Wahabi Muhammadans of Vellore were in league 
against Government, and had arranged a plot for the 
massacre of all the European residents, in which the 
28th Regiment of Native Infantry, then stationed at 
Vellore, was deeply implicated. An East Indian sub- 
ordinate of the Public Works Department also reported 
that he had overheard a Muhammadan munshi of the 
Small Cause Court speaking to a shopman of his faith 
about the seditious preaching of a certain Khazi. The 
munshi was sent for, and described what he said had 
occurred in a certain mosque, where sedition had been 
openly advocated by a Wahabi missionary who had re- 
cently arrived from Hyderabad, as well as by others." 
It appeared, from the investigations of the Inspector- 
General of Police, that the whole affair had been nothing 
more than a conspiracy among the orthodox Muham- 
madans to arouse alarm regarding the designs of the 
Wahabis, and to prevent these sectarians from frequenting 
their mosques. 

Wudder. — See Odde. 

Wynad.— Returned, at times of census, as a terri- 
torial division of Chetti. There are at Gudalur near the 
boundary between the Nilgiri district and Malabar, and 
in the Wynad, two classes called, respectively, Mandadan 
Chettis {(j'V^ and Wynadan Chettis. 

The following account of the Wynadan or Wynaadan 
Chettis is given in the Gazetteer of the Nilgiris. " They 
speak Malayalam, and follow marumakkatayam (inheri- 
tance in the female line). They say they were originally 
Vellalas from Coimbatore, followed makkatayam (inheri- 
tance from father to son), spoke Tamil, and wore the 

WYNAD 414 

Tamil top-knot. In proof of this, they point out that at 
their weddings they still follow certain Tamil customs, 
the bridegroom wearing a turban and a red cloth with 
a silver girdle over it and being shaved, and the woman 
putting on petticoats and nose-rings. They have 
headmen called Kolapallis, subordinate to whom are 
Mantiris, but these are liable to be overruled by a nad 
council. No wedding may take place without the head- 
man's leave. Two forms of marriage are recognised. 
In one, the couple exchange garlands after the Tamil 
fashion, and the father (a relic of the makkatayam system) 
conducts the ceremony. Preliminaries are arranged by 
go-betweens, and the chief of the numerous rites is the 
placing of a bracelet on the girl's upper arm under a pandal 
(booth) before the priest and the assembled relatives. 
The other form is simpler. The bridegroom goes to the 
girl's house with some men friends, and, after a dinner 
there, a go-between puts on the bangle. Before marriage, 
a tali-kettu ceremony resembling that of the Nayars is 
often gone through, all the girls of a family who are of 
marriageable age having talis tied round their necks on 
the same day by a maternal uncle. Married women are 
allowed intimacy with their husbands' brothers. Widows 
are permitted to marry again. The dead are usually 
burnt, but those who have met their deaths by accidents 
and epidemics are buried. Water from a vessel containing 
rice and a gold coin is poured into a dying person's mouth. 
Should the spirit of the dead disturb the dreams of the 
relatives, a hut for it is built under an astrologer's directions 
close to the house, and in this lights are lit morning and 
evening, and periodical offerings of food are made. The 
Wynaadan Chettis reverence the deities in the Ganapati, 
Mahamari and Kalimalai Tambiran temples near Sultan's 
Battery, Airu Billi of the Kurumbas, and one or two 


Others. The women wear in their distended ear-lobes 
gold discs which are so characteristic of the Nayars, and 
many necklaces. They wear two white cloths, tying 
one round the waist and another across their breasts." 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that the 
Wynad or Wynaadan Chettis "claim to be Sudras, and 
are in appearance and customs very similar to the Nayars. 
They are polluted by all castes below Nayars. Their 
marriage customs seem to be a mixture of east and west 
coast practices. They follow the marumakkattayam 
system, and perform the tali-kettu kalianam ; but this 
is done on the tenth day after puberty, and two talis 
have to be tied on the girl, one by her maternal uncle, 
and one by the senior female of her house. They also 
celebrate a regular marriage ceremony, at which a 
bracelet is put on the bride's right arm, and bride and 
bridegroom garland each other ; while next morning a 
kanam or bride-price has to be paid to the bride's 
karnavan (senior male in a family). They are bold 
shikaris (sportsmen), and tiger spearing is a favourite 
pastime, closely connected with their religion. 

" The tiger is encircled by a wall of netting six feet 
high, which is gradually closed up, and then speared. 
The carcass is not skinned, but is stretched on a pole, 
and hung up as a sacrifice to their deity." 

Yadava. — Yadava, meaning descendants of king 
Yadu, from whom Krishna was descended, has been 
recorded as a synonym or title of Idaiyan, and a sub- 
division of Golla and Koracha. There is a tradition 
among the Idaiyans that Krishna was brought up by 
their caste. 

yAkAri 416 

Yakari.— 5^^ Ekari. 

Yanadi.— The Yanadis are a dark-skinned, platy- 
rhine tribe, short of stature, who inhabit the Telugu 
country. The name has been the subject of much 
etymological speculation. Some derive it from a (pri- 
vative) and nathu (lord or protector), and it may mean 
those who are not included in the ruling or principal 
caste. Again, it has been derived from yanam (boat) 
and adi (means). But the Yanadis are not known to 
have plied, nor do they now ply boats at Sriharikota, 
their chief place of residence, which is on the coast. 
The word would seem to be derived from the Sanskrit 
anadi, or those whose origin is not traceable. The 
people perhaps elongated the vowel-sound, so that it 
became Yanadi. In like manner, the Native graduate 
of the Madras University talks of himself as being, not 
a B.A. or M.A., but B.Ya. or M.Ya. And a billiard- 
marker will call the game yeighty-yeight instead of 

The tradition of the Yanadis as to their origin is very 
vague. Some call themselves the original inhabitants 
of the wilds in the neighbourhood of the Pulicat lake, 
where they hunted and fished at will, until they were 
enslaved by the Reddis. Others say that the Reddi (or 
Manchi ?) Yanadis were originally Chenchus, a small but 
superior class, and that they fled from oppression and 
violence from the mountains in the west, and amalga- 
mated themselves with the common Yanadis. The 
common deity of both Chenchus and Manchi Yanadis 
is Chenchu Devudu. Between the Yanadi and the 
Chenchu, however, there is no love lost. They can be 
seen living close together, but not intermingling, on 
the Nallamalais, and they differ in their social customs. 
Yanadi Chenchu is said to be the name given by 


Brahmans to the Chenchus.* The following legend 
concerning the Yanadis is narrated by Mackenzie. f " Of 
old, one named Raghava brought with him sixty families 
from Pacanatti district, locating himself with them at 
Sriharicotta, and, clearing the country, formed Raghava- 
puram. The people by degrees spread through a few 
adjoining districts. A rishi, who came from Benares, 
and was named Ambikesvarer, resided in Mad'hyaranya 
(or the central wilderness), and there, daily bathing in a 
river, paid homage to Siva. These wild people of their 
own accord daily brought him fruits and edibles, putting 
them before him. At length he inquired of them the 
reason. They replied that their country was infested 
by a terrible serpent, and they wished to be taught 
charms to destroy it, as well as charms for other needful 
purposes. He taught them, and then vanished away." 

It is an advantage for a European to have a Yanadi as 
a camp servant, as he can draw water from any caste well. 
The Yanadi can also wash, and carry water for Brahmans. 

The animistic nature of their religion ; the production 
of fire by friction ; the primitive hunting and fishing stage 
in which a number remain ; the almost raw animal food 
which they eat, after merely scorching or heating the flesh 
of the game they kill, indicate that the Yanadis have not 
yet emerged from a primitive stage of culture. They 
make fire by friction with sticks from the following trees : — 

FrotiuTH caudatum (konda ragi). 

Bauhinia racemosa (aree chettu). 

Ficus. sp. (kallu jeevee chettu). 

Ftereospermum suberijolium (tada). 

A tree belonging to the Nat. Order Laurineae. 

Cordia tnonoica (female tree). 

* Manual of the Kurnool district. 

t Catalogue Raisonn6 of Oriental Manuscripts, III, 1862. 



Two sticks are prepared, one short, the other long. 
In the former a square cavity is scooped out, and 
it is held firmly on the ground, while the long stick is 
twisted rapidly to and fro in the cavity. No charcoal 
powder is used, but a rag, or even dried leaves are set 
fire to. 

The head-quarters of the Yanadis is the island of 
Sriharikota in the Nellore district. Their primitive con- 
dition attracted notice in 1835, when the island came into 
the possession of the Government, which endeavoured 
to ameliorate their position by supplying them with a 
liberal allowance of grain, clothing, tobacco, and money, in 
return for the jungle produce, which they collected. The 
demand for labour naturally rose, and the Government 
offered to pay to parents 2 annas 6 pies on the birth of a 
male, and i anna 3 pies on the birth of a female child — a 
bounty on productivity justified by special local causes. 
In 1858, the Government opened a school for the 
teaching of Telugu, which was rendered attractive by 
offers of rice and clothing to those who attended it. An 
industrial department gave lessons in basket-making, and 
land was assigned for the cultivation of chay-root 
(Oldenlandia umbellata), which yields the beautiful red 
dye formerly much employed in the dyeing of cotton 
fabrics, but has had its nose put out of joint by the 
introduction of aniline and alizarin dyes. But the indus- 
tries proved unsuccessful, and the strength of the school 
gradually declined, so that it was abolished in 1877. 

At the census, 1891, the Yanadis returned as many 
as 89 sub-divisions, of which the two most important 
numerically were Chenchu and Manchi. A division into 
classes exists according to dietary, occupation, residence, 
etc. There are, for example, the Reddi Yanadis, the 
Challa (refuse-eating), Adavi, and Kappala (frog-eaters). 

I— I 



The Reddi Yanadis are a settled class, employed chiefly 
as cooks by the Panta Reddis. They do not mingle with 
the Challa and Adivi sections, whom they regard as 
out-castes. If a Reddi Yanadi woman's husband dies, 
abandons, or divorces her, she may marry his brother, 
and, in the case of separation or divorce, the two brothers 
will live on friendly terms with each other. The Challas 
are also known as Garappa (dry-land) or Chatla (tree). 
They reside in huts on the borders of villages in the 
service of the community, and live on jungle produce, and 
by snaring and hunting game. The Reddi and Challa 
Yanadis are occasionally employed as kavalgars, or village 
watchmen, in the Kistna and Godavari districts. In the 
Venkatagiri Zemindari the Yanadis are among the 
recognised servants of the village community as procurers 
of charcoal for the blacksmith. The Adavi Yanadis are, 
as the name implies, jungle-men. The Manchi or good 
Yanadis are a small superior class. The Yanadis of the 
North Arcot district, it may be noted, are Chenchu 
worshippers, and go by that name. They are non-frog- 
eaters, and do not permit the Kappala, or frog-eaters, 
even to touch their pots. Some Yanadis of the Nellore 
district feed on the refuse of the table. The Somari, or 
idle Yanadis, live in the Kavali taluk of that district. 
They do scavenging work, and eat the refuse food thrown 
away by people from the leaf plate after a meal. 

The following are some of the house-names of families 
living in Nellore, Sriharikota, Tada, and Kambakam : — 
(a) Manchi Yanadis — 

Bandi, cart. Ilia, of a house. 

Chembetti, hammer. 
Chilakala, paroquet. 
Dhoddi, sheep-fold. 
Igala, house-fly. 
Enthodu, a village. 

Kathtlula, sword. 
Kanur, a village. 
Kotlu, cow-shed. 
Mekala, goat 
Manikala, measure. 

Udamala, water-lizard. 
Jandayi, flag. 
Marrigunta, pond near 

yAnAdi 420 

Pamula, snake. 
Tenkayala, cocoanut. 
Totla, garden. 
Tupakala, gun. 

{b) Challa Yanadi — 
Nerigi Mekala, a kind of goat. 
Elugu, bear. 
Thirlasetti, name of a Balija Chetti. 

All these names represent exogamous septs. In 
every case, the house-name was known only to old men 
and women, and they, as a rule, did not know the house- 
names of their neighbours or relations. Many of the 
names are derived from villages, or persons of other 
castes, on whose land they may. live, and are probably 
new names adopted instead of the original ones. For the 
purpose of their register. Forest officers invent prefixes 
by which Yanadis with the same family name can 
be distinguished, e.g., Kee Chenchugadu, Permadu 
Budthagadu, to distinguish them from other Chen- 
chugadus, and Budthagadus. The same practice is 
resorted to by planters, who give " estate names " to 
their coolies. 

Yanadis will not eat with Madigas or Paraiyans, and 
observe some principle in partaking of the refuse of the 
table. Thus, for a Chinna Yanadi to eat the refuse of 
the Mondis, Oddes, or Yerukalas, would involve excom- 
munication, which is always pronounced by a Balija 
Chetti, whose decision is final and binding. Restoration 
to caste can be secured by undergoing a personal ordeal, 
by giving a feast, and promising good behaviour in the 
future. The ordeal takes the form of scalding of the 
tongue with hot gold by the Balija Chetti. It is curious 
that there has recently grown up a tendency for members 
of other castes to join the Yanadi community. There 


are instances of barbers, weavers, fishermen, and even 
Komatis being admitted into the Yanadi fold. 

The headman, who goes by the name of Kulampedda 
or Pedda Yanadi, exercises general social control over a 
group, known as a guddem, ordinarily of about twenty 
huts. He decides social questions, sometimes on his own 
responsibility, by excommunicating or fining ; sometimes 
acting on the advice of a council of his castemen. Until 
quite recently, the tribe remained under the guidance of 
a hereditary leader of Sriharikota, who wielded immense 
power. The Paraiyans have risen superior to the 
Yanadis as a community, supplying among themselves 
their own artisans, weavers, carpenters, barbers, priests, 
teachers, etc., while the Yanadis are only just beginning 
to move in this direction. 

The language of the Yanadis is Telugu, but some 
words are compounds of Telugu and Tamil, e.g.^ arti- 
chedi for plantain, pandikutti for pig. 

The Yanadis know the forest flora well, and the uses 
of the various trees and shrubs, which yield good firewood, 
etc. They call the roller {Coracias indica) the milk bird, 
in the belief that, when a cow goes dry, she will yield 
milk if a feather of the roller is put in the grass for her 
to swallow. The crow-pheasant {Centropus sinensis) is 
to them the prickly-pear crow ; florikin the ground 
peacock ; the fan-tail snipe the pond snipe ; and the 
pin-tail the rice field snipe. 

At the census, 1891, 84,339 Yanadis were returned 
as Hindus, and 549 asanimists. Their places of worship 
are not temples, but houses, called devara indlu (houses 
of the gods), set apart for every centre. They worship a 
household god, a village goddess of local importance, and 
a deity of wider repute and influence. Chenchu Devudu 
is invariably the household god. Poleramma or Ankamma 


is in charge of a local area for weal or woe. Subba- 
rayudu, Venkateswaralu, Panchala, Narasimhulu, ano 
others, are the gods who control destinies over a wider 
area. The Yanadis are their own priests. The objects 
of worship take various forms : a wooden idol at Sri- 
harikota ; bricks ; stones ; pots of water with margosa 
{Melia Azadirachta) leaves ; images of gods drawn on 
the walls of their houses ; or mere handfuls of clay- 
squeezed into shape, and placed on a small platform 
erected under an aruka tree, which, like other Hindus, 
they hold sacred. They use a red powder, flowers, 
turmeric, etc., for worship ; burn camphor and incense ; 
and distribute fruit, dhal (pulse of Cajamis indicus), and 
the like. In worshipping ancestors, they resemble the 
Kurumbas. The house of the gods is a sanctum, into 
which no polluting object is allowed to enter. The most 
pious perform rites every Friday. At Sriharikota they 
do so once a fortnight, or once a month. The ordinary 
Yanadi only worships on occasion of a marriage, funeral, 
etc. A belief lingers that the pious are en rapport with 
the deity, who converses with them and even inspires 
them. The goddess receives animal sacrifices, but 
Chenchu Devudu is a strict vegetarian, whose votaries 
are bound, at times of worship, to subsist on a single 
daily meal of roots and fruits. The Yanadis, like 
Hindus, wear sect marks, and are even divided into 
Vaishnavites and Saivites. They are supposed, during 
worship, to endow inanimate objects, and the spirits 
of geographical features, with life and mind, and 
supernatural powers. Some Yanadis are converts to 

The Yanadis live in low conical huts, rudely built of 
bamboo and palmyra leaves, grass, or millet stalks, with 
a small entrance, through which grown-up people have 



423 yAnadi 

to creep. The hut affords protection from the sun and 
rain, but the Yanadis generally cook, eat, and sleep 
outside. The staple food of the Yanadis, apart from 
bazar purchases, consists of the following : — 

Animals : — Sambar deer, wild goat, l:j,ear, porcu- 
pine, boar, land tortoise, hare, bandicoot and jerboa rat, 
Varanus (lizard), mungoose, and fish. 

Vegetables and fruit : — Dioscorea (yams) ; pith and 
fruit of Phoenix sylvestris (date palm) ; fruit kernel of 
Cycas circinalis, eaten after thorough soaking in water ; 
and fruits of Eugenia alternifolia and Jambolana (black 
plum), Carissa Carandas and spinartcm, Buchanania 
acuminata, and Mimusops hexandra. 

They are, like the Irulas of Chingleput, very partial 
to sour and fermented rice-water, which is kept by the 
higher classes for cattle. This they receive in exchange 
for headloads of fuel. For some time past they have 
been stopped by the Forest officers from drinking this 
pulusunillu, as it makes them lazy, and unfit for work. 

The marriage ceremony is no indispensable necessity. 
The Adavi Yanadis, as a rule, avoid it ; the Reddi 
Yanadis always observe it. The parents rarely arrange 
alliances, the parties concerned managing for themselves. 
Maturity generally precedes marriage. Seduction and 
elopement are common occurrences, and divorce is easily 
obtained. Adultery is no serious offence ; widows may 
live in concubinage ; and pregnancy before marriage is 
no crime. By nature, however, the Yanadis are jealous 
of conjugal rights, and attached to their wives. Widow- 
hood involves no personal disfigurement, or denial of all 
the emblems of married life. 

A widow has been known to take, one after another, 
as many as seven husbands. The greater the number of 
her husbands, the more exalted is the status of a widow 

yanAdi 424 

in society, and the stronger her title to settle disputes 
on questions of adultery, and the like. Polygamy is 
common, and a Yanadi is known to have had as many as 
seven wives, whom he housed separately, and with whom 
he lived by turns. The marriage ceremony is under- 
going change, and the simple routine developing into a 
costly ceremonial, the details of which {e.g., the "screen 
scene") are copied from the marriage rites of higher 
castes in the Telugu country. Until quite recently, the 
flower of the tangedu {Cassia auriculatd) did duty for 
the tali, which is now a turmeric-dyed cotton thread with 
a gold bottu suspended from it. The auspicious hour is 
determined by a very simple process. The hour is noon, 
which arrives when a pole, two feet high, stuck vertically 
on the marriage platform, ceases to throw a shadow. 
The pole has superseded the arrow used of old, and 
sometimes a purohit is consulted, and gives the hour 
from his calendar. 

As a punishment for adultery, the unfaithful woman 
is, at Sriharikota, made to stand, with her legs tied, for 
a whole day in the sun, with a basket full of sand on 
her head. 

The maternal uncle receives a measure of rice, a new 
cloth, and eight annas, at the head-shaving ceremony of 
his nephew. At this ceremony, which is a borrowed 
custom, the uncle plucks a lock of hair from the head of 
the lad, and ties it to a bough of the aruka tree. The 
head is shaved, and the lad worships the village goddess, 
to whom a fowl is offered. The guests are feasted, and 
the evening is spent in a wild torch-light dance. 

At the first menstrual period, a Yanadi girl occupies 
a hut erected for the purpose, which must have within it 
at least one stick of Strychnos Nux-vomica, to drive 
away devils. On the ninth day the hut is burnt down, 


and the girl cleanses herself from pollution by bathing. 
A woman, after confinement, feeds for three days on the 
tender leaves, or cabbage of the date palm {^Phoenix 
sylvestris), and then on rice. Margosa leaves, and some- 
times the leaves of other trees, and the knife with which 
the umbilical cord was cut, are placed under the infant's 
head for six days. A net is hung in front of the door, 
to keep out devils. The baby is given a name by the 
soothsayer, who pretends to be in communication on the 
subject with the god or goddess. 

The Yanadis pose as prophets of human destinies, 
and, like the Nilgiri Kurumbas, pretend to hold 
intercourse with gods and goddesses, and to intercede 
between god and man. Every village or circle has 
one or more soothsayers, who learn their art from 
experts under a rigid routine. The period of pupilage 
is a fortnight spent on a dietary of milk and fruits 
with no cooked meat, in a cloister in meditation. The 
god or goddess Ankamma, Poleramma, Venkateswaralu, 
Subbaroyadu, or Malakondroyadu, appears like a 
shadow, and inspires the pupil, who, directly the period 
of probation has ceased, burns camphor and frankincense. 
He then sings in praise of the deity, takes a sea 
bath with his master, gives a sumptuous feast, and 
becomes an independent soothsayer. The ardent 
soothsayer of old wrought miracles, so runs the story, 
by stirring boiling rice with his hand, which was 
proof against scald or hurt. His modern brother 
invokes the gods with burning charcoal in his folded 
hands, to the beat of a drum. People flock in large 
numbers to know the truth. The word is rangam- 
pattedhi in North Arcot and sodi in Nellore. The 
soothsayer arranges Chenchu Devudu and the local 
gods in a separate devara illu or house of god, which 


is always kept scrupulously clean, and where worship 
is regularly carried on. The auspicious days for 
soothsaying are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The 
chief soothsayer is a male. The applicant presents 
him with betel nuts, fruit, flowers, and money. The 
soothsayer bathes, and sits in front of his house smeared 
with black, white, red, and other colours. His wife, 
or some other female, kindles a fire, and throws 
frankincense into it. He beats his drum, and sings, while 
a woman from within repeats the chant in a shrill voice. 
The songs are in praise of the deity, at whose and 
the soothsayer's feet the applicant prostrates himself 
and invokes their aid. The soothsayer feels inspired, 
and addresses the supplicant thus : " You have neglected 
me. You do not worship me. Propitiate me adequately, 
or ruin is yours." The future is predicted in song. 
In these predictions the rural folk place abundant faith. 

The Yanadis bury their dead. The corpse is laid on 
leaves in front of the hut, washed and clad. Pelalu 
(parched rice) is thrown over the corpse by the son 
and all the agnates. It is eventually placed on a bier, 
covered with a new cloth, and carried to the burial 
ground, by the sons, or, in the absence thereof, the 
sapindas. At a fixed spot near the grave, on which 
all corpses are placed, a cross is drawn on the ground, 
the four lines of which represent the four cardinal points 
of the compass. Close to the corpse are placed betel 
leaves and nuts, and a copper coin. All present then 
proceed to the spot where the grave is to be dug, while 
the corpse is left in charge of a Yanadi called the 
Bathyasthadu, who, as a rule, belongs to a different sept 
from that of the deceased. The corpse is laid on a cloth, 
face downwards, in the grave. The eldest son, followed 
by the other relatives, throws three handfuls of earth 





into the grave, which is then filled in. On their 
return home, the mourners undergo purification by- 
bathing before entering their huts. In front of the dead 
man's hut, two broken chatties (pots) are placed, 
whereof one contains ash-water, the other turmeric- 
water. Into each chatty a leafy twig is thrown. 
Those who have been present at the funeral stop 
at the chatties, and, with the twig, sprinkle them- 
selves first with the ash-water, and then with the 
turmeric-water. Inside the hut a lighted lamp, fed with 
gingelly oil, is set up, before which those who enter 
make obeisance before eating. 

The chinnadinamu ceremony, whereof notice is given 
by the Bathyasthadu, is usually held on the third day- 
after death. Every group (gudem) or village has its 
own Bathyasthudu, specially appointed, whose duty it 
is to convey the news of death, and puberty of girls, 
to all the relatives. Tupakis will never nominate a 
Tupaki as their Bathyastha, but will select from a 
Mekala or any sept except their own. 

On the morning of the chinnadinamu, the eldest 
son of the deceased cooks rice in a new pot, and 
makes curries and cakes according to his means. These 
are made up into six balls, which are placed in a new 
basket, and taken to the burial-ground. On reaching 
the spot where the cross-lines were drawn, a ball of rice 
is placed thereon, together with betel leaves and nuts 
and a copper coin. The Bathyasthadu remains in 
charge thereof, while those assembled proceed to the 
grave, whereon a pot of water is poured, and a stone 
planted at the spot beneath which the head lies. 
The stone is anointed with shikai (fruit of Acacia 
Concinna) and red powder, and milk poured over it, 
first by the widow or widower and then by the relations. 


This ceremony concluded, the son places a ball of 
rice at each corner of the grave, together with betel 
and money. Milk is poured over the remaining ball, 
which is wrapped in a leaf, and buried over the spot 
where the abdomen of the deceased is situated. Close 
to the grave, at the southern or head end, three 
stones are set up in the form of a triangle, whereon 
a new pot full of water is placed. A hole is made in the 
bottom of the pot, and the water trickles out towards 
the head of the corpse. This concludes the ceremony, 
and, as on the day of the funeral, purification by bathing, 
ash-water and turmeric-water, is carried out. 

The peddadinamu ceremony is performed on the 
sixteenth, or some later day after death. As on the 
chinnadinamu, the son cooks rice in a new pot. Opposite 
the entrance to the hut a handful of clay is squeezed into 
a conical mass, representing the soul of the deceased, 
and stuck up on a platform. The eldest son, taking a 
portion of the cooked rice, spreads it on a leaf in front of 
the clay image, before which incense is burnt, and a lamp 
placed. The image, and the remainder of the food made 
up into four balls, are then carried by the son to a tank 
(pond). As soon as the relatives have assembled there, 
the recumbent effigy of a man is made, close to the edge 
of the tank, with the feet towards the north. The 
conical image is set up close to the head of the effigy, 
which is anointed by the relatives as at the chinnadinamu, 
except that no milk is poured over it. The four balls of 
rice are placed close to the hands and feet of the effigy, 
together with betel and money, and the son salutes it. 
The agnates then seat themselves in a row between the 
effigy and the water, with their hands behind their backs, 
so as to reach the effigy, which is moved slowly towards 
the water, into which it finally falls, and becomes 


disintegrated. The proceedings conclude with distri- 
bution of cloths and cheroots, and purification as before. 
The more prosperous Yanadis now engage a Brahman 
to remove the pollution by sprinkling water over them. 
During the peddadinamu incessant music and drum- 
beating has been going on, and is continued till far into 
the night, and sometimes the ceremonial is made to 
last over two days, in order that the Yanadis may indulge 
in a bout of music and dancing. 

The Yanadis are expert anglers, catching fish with a 
triangular net or wicker basket. They also excel in diving 
for and catching hold of fish concealed in crevices of 
rocks or buried in mud, and assist European sportsmen 
by marking down florikin. Those who are unable to 
count bring in a string with knots tied in it, to indicate 
the number of birds marked. They catch bandicoot rats 
by a method known as voodarapettuta. A pot is stuffed 
with grass, into which fire is thrown. The mouth of the 
pot is placed against the hole made by the bandicoot, 
and smoke blown into the hole through a small slit in the 
pot. The animal becomes suffocated, and tries to escape 
through the only aperture available, made for the 
occasion by the Yanadi, and, as it emerges, is killed. 
They are fearless in catching cobras, which they draw 
out of their holes without any fear of their fangs. They 
pretend to be under the protection of a charm, while so 
doing. A correspondent writes that a cobra was in his 
grounds, and his servant got a Yanadi, who had charge 
of the adjoining garden, to dislodge it. The man was 
anxious to catch it alive, and then, before killing it, 
carefully removed the poison-sac with a knife, and 
swallowed it as a protection against snake-bite. 

The Yanadis are good shikaris (huntsmen), and devoid 
of fear in the jungle. They hold licenses under the 

VII-29 B 


Arms Act, and being good shots, are great at bagging 
tigers, leopards, porcupines, and other big and small 
game. After an unsuccessful beat for spotted deer, a 
friend informs me, the Yanadis engaged therein erected 
a cairn of twigs and stones several feet high, round 
which they danced with gradually quickening step, to 
the refrain in Telugu ' Nothing comes.' Then, to the 
same tune, they danced round it in the opposite 
direction. The incantation concluded, the beat was 
continued and a stag duly appeared on the scene — and 
was missed ! 

They gather honey from bee-hives on hill tops and 
cliffs which are precipitous and almost inaccessible, and 
perilous to reach. The man climbs down with the help 
of a plaited rope of pliant bamboo, fastened above to a 
peg driven firmly into a tree or other hard substance, and 
takes with him a basket and stick. He drives away the 
bees at the first swing by burning grass or brushwood 
beneath the hives. The next swing takes him closer to 
the hive, which he pokes with the stick. He receives 
the honey -comb in the basket, and the honey flows out 
of it into a vessel adjusted to it. When the basket and 
vessel are full, he shakes the rope, and is drawn up by 
the person in charge of it, who is almost always his wife's 
brother, so that there may be no foul play. He thus 
collects a considerable quantity of honey and wax, for 
which he receives only a subsistence wage from the 
contractor, who makes a big profit for himself. 

The following list of minor forest products, chiefly 
collected by Government Yanadis, is given in the Nellore 
District Gazette : — 

Chay root {Oldenlandia umbellata), which, by a 
quaint misprint, appears as cheroot. 
Kanuga (Pongamia glabra). 


Sarsaparilla {Hemidesmus indicus). 

Nux vomica [Strychnos Nux-vomicd). 

Tangedu {Cassia auriculata). 

Soap nut {Sapindus trifoliatus). 

Achilla weed (lichens). 

Ishwarac {Aristolochia indicd). 

Vishabuddi {Sida carpinifolid). 

Kukkapala {Tylophora asthmaticd). 


Rattan ( Calamus Rotang). 

Tamarind {Tamarindus indicus). 

Neredu {Eugenia Jamb olana). 

Surati bark ( Ventilago Madraspatand). 

In the interests of the Yanadis it is laid down, in the 
Gazette, that " the Yanadi villages must be encouraged, 
and the people paid at least once a week for the produce 
they collect. This must be done by the maistry (over- 
seer) going up and down the main ride every day during 
the collection season, checking the collections, and 
paying for them on the spot. The Yanadis will, of 
course, camp out in the reserve when collecting produce, 
and not return, as heretofore, every three days to Sri- 
harikota, thus wasting 45 per cent, of their time in the 
mere coming and going, apart from the fact that, 
under the old system, the produce from some parts of 
the reserves was never collected at all, as no one visited 

The Yanadis dance on festive occasions, at cere- 
monies, and occasionally for begging, smearing the body 
with turmeric, wearing flowers, singing meaningless 
songs, and drumming in rude fashion " dambukku, dam- 
bukku." Their only wind instrument is the bag-pipe, 
but they play on the snake charmer's reed as an accom- 
paniment. Their dance is full of indecent suggestion. 


They have of late trained themselves for the stage, and 
there are several troupes of Bhagavathulu. 

To the Rev. G. N. Thomssen, of the Telugu Mission, 
Bapatla, I am indebted for the following account of a 
Yanadi dance. ** Especially at night, they love to gather 
in some part of the jungle where they have their huts, 
and, having gathered a pile of palmyra leaves, burn them 
one by one as torches, while a number of men and women 
begin to dance their quaint, weird jungle dance, which 
is to represent the experiences of the hunters in their 
wanderings. The chief actors, or dancers, are dressed 
fantastically. They are almost nude, but dangling from 
their loins are palmyra baskets, in which they gather 
edible bulbs and roots, dead rats, snakes, etc., which are 
prized as something to fill the stomach. Suddenly the 
actors fell on the ground. One of them cries out ' thelu ' 
(scorpion). Then the other asks where, and is shown 
the place where the scorpion is supposed to have stung 
the sufferer, while the choir sing : — 

Alas ! the scorpion stings. 

O ! O ! the scorpion stings. 

Which finger ? Ah ! the middle one. 

As soon as I was stung, 

The poison into my head ascends. 

Ayo ! Ayo ! What shall I do ? 

Bring down the poison with yilledu. 

This chant is kept up for a long time, when suddenly 
another of the actors falls on the ground, and writhes 
like a snake. The Yanadis are a very supple race, and, 
when dancing, especially when writhing on the ground, 
one sees a display of muscular action that makes one 
believe that the human body is capable of all the twists 
and turns of a serpent. When the actor is representing 
the man bitten by a snake, one hears quaint cries while 


the snake is sought in the hair, ears, and nose, basket and 
loin-cloth. The choir now sings the following : — 

Come down to catch the snake, 

O ! snake-charmer, behold the standing snake. 

Be sure the pipe sounds well. 

Come, come, with the big snakes in the basket. 

And the little ones in the lock of your hair. 

When I went down the bank of the Yerracheru, 

And saw the harvest cut. 

The cobra crawled beneath the harvester. 

Ayo ! Ayo ! Ayo ! 

To see this action song, and to hear these strange 
people, is one of the queerest experiences of native 
aboriginal life. The dancers, and the spectators who 
form the choir, all become very excited, and even the 
European, seeing the tamasha (spectacle), is infected 
with the excitement. The actors are bathed in per- 
spiration, but the dance is kept up nevertheless, and 
only when their large stock of palmyra leaf torches is 
exhausted will they stop and take their rest." 

In their nomadic life the Yanadis have learnt by 
experience the properties and uses of herbs and roots, 
with which they treat fever, rheumatism, and other 
diseases. They have their own remedies for cobra bite 
and scorpion sting. It is said that the Yanadis alone are 
free from elephantiasis, which affects the remaining 
population of Sriharikota. 

It is noted by the Rev. G. N. Thomssen that " while 
it has been impossible to gather these people into 
schools, because of their shyness and jungle wildness. 
Christian missionaries, especially the American Baptist 
missionaries, have succeeded in winning the confidence 
of these degraded children of nature, and many of them 
have joined the Christian Church. Some read and write 
well, and a few have even learned English. We have a 


small, but growing settlement of Christianised Yanadis 
at Bapatla." 

To sum up the Yanadi. It is notorious that, in times 
of scarcity, he avoids the famine relief works, for the simple 
reason that he does not feel free on them. Nevertheless, 
a few are in the police service. Some are kavalgars 
(watchmen), farm labourers, scavengers, stone-masons 
or bricklayers, others are pounders of rice, or domestic 
servants, and are as a rule faithful. They earn a liveli- 
hood also in various subsidiary ways, by hunting, fishing, 
cobra-charming, collecting honey or fuel, rearing and 
selling pigs, practicing medicine as quacks, and by thiev- 
ing. " An iron implement," Mr. F. S. Mullaly writes, * 
called the sikkaloo kol, is kept by them ostensibly for the 
purpose of digging roots, but it is really their jemmy, and 
used in the commission of burglary. It is an ordinary 
iron tool, pointed at both ends, one end being fitted in a 
wooden handle. With this they can dig through a wall 
noiselessly and quickly, and many houses are thus broken 
into in one night, until a good loot is obtained. House- 
breakings are usually committed during the first quarter 
of the moon. Yanadis confess their own crimes readily, 
but will never implicate accomplices. . . . Women 
are useful in the disposal of stolen property. At dusk 
they go round on their begging tours selling mats, which 
they make, and take the opportunity of dropping a word 
to the women of cheap things for sale, and the tempta- 
tion is seldom resisted. Stolen property is also carried 
in their marketing baskets to the village grocer, the 
Komati. Among the wild (Adavi) Yanadis, women [are 
told off to acquire information while begging, but they 
chiefly rely on the liquor-shopkeepers for news, which 
may be turned to useful account."t 

• Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency, 1892. 

t This note is based on an article by Mr. Ranga Rao, with additions. 

435 YATA 

Yanati.— The Yanatls, Yenetis, or Enetis, are a class 
of cultivators in the Ganjam and Vizagapatam districts, 
between whom and the Yanadis some confusion has 
arisen. For example, it is noted, in the Madras Census 
Report, 1 89 1, that it is curious to find the Yanadi sub- 
division of the Velamas so strongly represented, for there 
is at the present day a wide gulf between Velamas and 
Yanadis, Again, in the Census Report, 1901, it is noticed 
under the heading Yanati that " entries of this name 
were clubbed with Yanadi, but it has since been reported 
that, in Bissumcuttack taluk of the Vizagapatam Agency, 
there is a separate caste called Yanati or Yeneti Dora, 
which is distinct from either Yanadi or Konda Dora." 

It is said that the Yanatis of Ganjam also go by the 
name of Entamara and Gainta or Gayinta. 

Yata.— The Yatas are the toddy-drawers of Ganjam 
and Vizagapatam. The caste name is a corrupt form of 
ita, meaning date palm, from which the toddy is secured. 
It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district, 
that " toddy is obtained from the palmyra [Borasstfs 
flabellifer) and date palm {^Phoenix sylvesiris). The 
toddy-drawers are usually of the Yata and Segidi castes. 
The palmyra is tapped by cutting off the end of the 
flower spathe, and the date palm by making an incision, 
like an inverted V, close under the crown of leaves. In 
the zamindaris, little care is taken to see that date trees 
are not over-tapped, and hundreds of trees may be seen 
ruined, and even killed by excessive tapping." Many 
members of the caste are engaged in the manufacture of 
baskets and boxes from palm leaves. The Yatas are 
said to be responsible for a good deal of the crime in 
portions of the Vizagapatam district. 

For the following note on the Yatas of the Vizaga- 
patam district, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. 

YATA 436 

They are a Telugu-speaking people, and the caste is 
organised on the same lines as many other Telugu 
castes. In each locaHty where they are settled, there is 
a headman called Kulampedda, who, with the assistance 
of the caste elders, settles disputes and affairs affecting 
the community. The caste is, like other Telugu castes, 
divided up into numerous intiperus or exogamous septs. 
The custom of menarikam, according to which a man 
marries his maternal uncle's daughter, is the rule. If 
the girl, whom a man claims in accordance with this 
custom, is not given to him, his mother raises such a 
howl that her brother is compelled by the castemen to 
come to terms. If he still refuses to give up his daughter, 
and bestows her on another man, the protest of his sister 
is said to destroy the happiness of the pair. Girls are 
married before or after puberty. The marriage cere- 
monies last over three days, and are carried out either 
at the house of the bride or bridegroom, the former if 
the parents are prosperous and influential people in the 
community. A Brahman officiates, and ties the sata- 
manam on the bride's neck. On the evening of the third 
day, at the bride's house, presents called katnam, in the 
shape of rings, waist-bands, and a gold bangle for the 
right upper arm, are given to the bridegroom. The 
value of these presents bears a fixed proportion to that of 
the voli or bride-price. The pair live for three days at 
the bride's house, and then proceed to the house of the 
bridegroom, where they stay during the next three days. 
They then return to the home of the bride, where they 
once more stay for three days, at the end of which the 
bridegroom returns to his house. The consummation 
ceremony is a separate event, and, if the girl has reached 
puberty, takes place a few days after the marriage 
ceremony. The remarriage of widows is permitted. 


The satamanam is tied on the bride's neck by the Kulam- 
pedda. Divorce is also recognised, and a man marrying 
a divorced woman has to pay twelve rupees, known as 
moganaltappu, or new husband's fine. The divorced 
woman has to return all the jewellery which was given 
to her by her former husband. 

The dead are cremated, and a man of the washerman 
caste usually assists in igniting the pyre. There is an 
annual ceremony in memory of the dead, at which the 
house is cleaned, and purified with cow-dung. A meal 
on a more than usually liberal scale is cooked, and 
incense and camphor are burnt before the entrance to the 
house. Food is then offered to the dead, who are invoked 
by name, and the celebrants of the rite partake of a 
hearty meal. 

The usual caste titles are Naidu and Setti. 

Yeddula (bulls). — An exogamous sept of Boya and 

Yedu Madala (seven madalas). — The name of a 
section of Upparas, indicating the amount of the bride- 
price. A madala is equivalent to two rupees. 

Yelka Meti (good rat). — An exogamous sept of 

Yemme.— Yemme, Emme, or Yemmalavaru, mean- 
ing buffalo or buffalo people, has been recorded as 
an exogamous sept of Bedar or Boya, Kurni, Kuruba, 
Madiga, and Vakkaliga. 

Yenne (oil). — A sub-division of Ganiga. 

Yenuga.— Yenuga or Yenigala, meaning elephant, 
has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Kapu, the 
members of which will not touch ivory. 

Yenumala.-^Yenumala or Yenamaloru, meaning 
buffalo or buffalo people, has been recorded as an exoga- 
mous sept of Balija, Boya, Madiga, and Odde. 


Yeravallar.— 5^^ Eravallar. 

Yerlam.— A division of Kapus, so called after a 
Brahman girl named Yerlamma, who was excommuni- 
cated for not being married, and bore children to a 

Yerra (red). — A sub-division of Golla and Kapu, and 
an exogamous sept of Devanga. 

Yerudandi. — See Erudandi. 

YogiGurukkal. — The Yogi Gurukkals are described 
in the Madras Census Report, 1891, as "a Malayalam- 
speaking beggar caste. They are also priests in Kali 
temples, and pial schoolmasters. They bury their dead in 
a sitting posture (like Sanyasis)." The pial, it may be 
noted, is a raised platform under the verandah, or on 
either side of the door of a house, in which village schools 
are held. 

The Yogi Gurukkals are scattered about Malabar, 
and their chief occupation seems to be the perform- 
ance of worship to Kali or Durga. They officiate 
as priests for Mukkuvans and Tiyans. Among the 
Mukkuvans, puja (worship) to Kali at the annual festival 
has to be done by a Yogi Gurukkal, whereas, on ordinary 
occasions, it may be done by a Mukkuvan, provided 
that he has been initiated by a Yogi Gurukkal. In 
their customs, the Yogi Gurukkals closely follow the 

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that " the 
Yogi Gurukkals of North Malabar are a caste which, 
though low in the social scale, is not regarded as convey- 
ing distance pollution. They perform sakti puja in their 
own houses, to which no one outside the caste is allowed 
to attend ; they also perform it for Nayars and Tiyans. 
They are celebrated sorcerers and exorcists, and are also 
schoolmasters by profession." 


Zonnala (millet : Sorghum vulgare). — Zonnala, or 
the equivalent Zonnakuti, has been recorded as an 
exogamous sept of Kapu. The Koyis hold a festival 
when the zonna crop is ready to be cut, at which a fowl 
is killed in the field, and its blood sprinkled en a stone 
set up for the purpose. 

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